LIMA — A car that veered off Interstate 75 and collided head-on with a power pole led to one man’s death and hundreds of Lima residents without power Tuesday morning.
The crash happened at 8:30 a.m. at the I-75 northbound and state Route 81 eastbound interchange, the Lima post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol reported.
Willie Gardner, 56, of Homewood, Ala., was pronounced dead at the scene. He was driving a 2000 Nissan Sentra northbound on I-75, when he traveled off the right side of the roadway and struck a sign. The car then traveled down the embankment between the highway and the exit ramp and slammed into the power pole, causing the pole to snap in half and land on top of the car and also causing power lines to break and fall across I-75. Gardner was wearing his seat belt at the time of the crash, troopers reported.
Gardner’s front-seat passenger, Wynton B. Reed, of Birmingham, Ala., was ejected from the Nissan. He was taken to Lima Memorial Health System with injuries that were not life-threatening.
The back seat passenger, Cynthia Gardner, 53, of Homewood Ala., was trapped in the car after it struck the pole. She had to be extricated by Bath Township EMS and was also taken to Lima Memorial Health System with injuries that were not life-threatening.
There were also four other vehicles that were struck by the power lines that fell when Willie Gardner’s car struck the pole. A 2004 Ford van, driven by Curtis Jacobsen, 33, of Davisburg, Mich., a 1997 Freightliner, driven by Gagandip Daffu, 30, of Windsor, Ontario, a 2010 Chevrolet Impala, driven by Joseph Schneider, 77, of Algonac, Mich., and a 2007 Volvo commercial vehicle, driven by Stephen Wright, 59, of Stanton, Mich., were hit. None of them were injured.
American Electric Power reported that the crash left nearly 1,000 customers without power Tuesday morning.
AEP spokeswoman Shelly Clark quoted the estimated restore time for the 897 outages as 1 p.m., but because of the downed power lines and the damaged pole, some didn’t have power restored until 6 p.m. Tuesday as crews worked all day to fix the lines and poles.
The exit ramps to and from I-75 from Route 81 were closed for most of the morning Tuesday and Route 81 was down to one lane for about a half-mile underneath the I-75 overpass to accommodate emergency vehicles.