More than 50 cars and trucks were damaged and 12 motorists were injured when a plow truck operator threw snow, ice, and slush over a median divider wall and into oncoming traffic for a couple of miles on the Ohio Turnpike on January 23.
The operator was traveling westbound in the left lane near the State Route 250 interchange, with the wing plow deployed, according to the Ohio Turnpike Commission. The driver is a turnpike employee, driving a fleet vehicle.
As with any incident that results in accidents or injuries, the employee was sent for mandatory drug and alcohol testing, and is now on administrative leave, pending the outcome of the investigation.
All snow and ice operations conducted on the Ohio Turnpike are performed by turnpike employees, utilizing commission equipment. According to the Commission, employees who plow snow are Maintenance Worker Class II Roadway employees. When an employee is interviewing for a job with the turnpike, he or she underoges a thorough review of skills and experience necessary for the position. After being hired, the employee goes through an extensive training including snow and ice removal.
In a statement after the incident, the Commission said, "This was an isolated incident involving a single operator and is not representative of our employees or our operations."
According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the incident is under investigation. Possible charges are pending a review by the Erie County Proseucutor.