Two separate crashes close U.S. 33 Thursday


Motorists on U.S. 33 had to contend with a pair of crashes Thursday morning, one of which saw a dump truck having its bed ripped off by an overpass.
According to a release from the Union County Sheriff’s Office, deputies received reports at about 8:47 a.m. of an injury crash on U.S. 33 westbound at the Beecher Gamble Road overpass. When units arrived, they found the bed of a 2001 Sterling dump truck wedged between the overpass and roadway.
The release states that the driver, Elmer R. Hoffer, 77, of Urbana, was unaware that the bed of the truck was raised as he was driving.
“When he drove underneath the overpass, the bed struck the bridge and was torn off the actual truck and became stuck to the bridge overpass,” the release states.
A black 2011 Honda Pilot following the truck suffered “heavy damage” from debris falling from the overpass, though the driver was uninjured.
It was apparent to authorities that the truck didn’t have its bed down.
“Lots of trucks travel that road, and that bridge is not a low bridge at all,” said Nancy Burton, a public information officer at the Ohio Department of Transportation.
According to the release, Jerome Township Fire and EMS took Hoffer to Memorial Hospital for minor injuries. Deputies cited him for failure to maintain reasonable control of his vehicle.
After the crash, authorities closed U.S. 33 westbound and Beecher Gamble Road, and ODOT sent out an inspector to check the integrity of the bridge. Burton said this is standard practice for these sorts of accidents.
“Any time a bridge is struck, an inspector is sent out,” she said. “They inspect to see extent of damage and if the bridge can support (traffic) both under and over.”
According a release from the Sheriff’s Office, U.S. 33 westbound and Beecher Gamble Road were reopened at about 2:15 p.m.
Burton said ODOT has seen more of these types of crashes in recent years. She said when they occur, they’re particularly disruptive to traffic.
“It’s shutting down a major route, and it’s impacting hundreds of thousands of drivers,” she said.
Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers dealt with a five-vehicle crash earlier that morning that closed a portion of U.S. 33 further west.
At about 6:04 a.m., a westbound 2008 Toyota RAV4, driven by Brian Cofer, 48, of Columbus, struck the rear end of a stopped 2017 Honda Accord on U.S. 33 east of Honda Parkway. The collision pushed the 2017 Accord, which then struck a 2011 Honda Accord, which then struck a 2003 Honda Element.
A 2006 Honda Pilot then tried avoiding the crash, but hit the Toyota after it crossed over the center line.
Cofer was cited for failure to maintain assured clear distance ahead. The driver of the Honda Element, Bridgette Stevens, 43, of Westerville, was taken to Memorial Hospital for injuries.
Troopers closed off U.S. 33 westbound for about two hours to investigate the crash.

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