2 people in van killed in Ohio Turnpike crash

By The Associated Press
Published On: Nov 29 2013 06:54:58 AM EST
FREMONT, Ohio -

A car traveling more than 125 mph and being chased by state troopers in northwest Ohio struck a minivan that burst into flames, killing two people in the van, the State Highway Patrol said Friday.

The crash happened at about 7:15 p.m. Thursday on the Ohio Turnpike near Fremont, about 40 miles southeast of Toledo. The 24-year-old Kent man who was driving the speeding vehicle was taken to the hospital with minor injuries, the patrol said.

Highway Patrol Lt. Brett Gockstetter told AP Radio that the driver of the car was traveling at a high rate of speed and weaving in and out of traffic. He said the car crashed into the back of the minivan, which was carrying two adults from Toledo, and that both vehicles caught fire.

"The driver of the passenger car was able to exit the vehicle on his own accord," Gockstetter said. The two others could not.

Investigators said the fires caused severe damage and they couldn't immediately tell if any of the people in the vehicles were wearing seat belts. The identities of the two who died were being withheld until their families could be notified.

Officials said the speeding vehicle was traveling between 125 mph and 150 mph and hit at least three other vehicles over the course of 17 miles, WTOL-TV reported.

Josh Pickett of Toledo told The Toledo Blade that he was headed home from Thanksgiving dinner with relatives in Cleveland when the speeding driver passed him, followed about a minute later by a state police cruiser.

"I was going 76, and the guy passes me like I was standing still," Pickett told the newspaper.

He said within a few minutes, traffic suddenly stopped "and I saw really big flames."

Ty Mahaffey told The Blade a car zoomed by him "at an enormously high rate of speed. ... I have never seen a passenger car going so fast."

The Toledo resident said he was going around 80 mph "and when he passed me, it was like I was going in reverse." He said afterward he had to pull over briefly to collect himself.

The turnpike's westbound lanes were closed for several hours but reopened early Friday.

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