ELYRIA - A 6-year-old girl remains in “extreme critical” condition from injuries she sustained in a multiple-vehicle crash just before 2 p.m. Sunday at the intersection of state Route 57 and Cleveland Street.
Police have charged Donald Buchs, 24, of Elyria, with operating a vehicle while intoxicated after he appeared to be under the influence of either drugs or alcohol, said police Capt. Chris Costantino. A blood sample taken from Buchs after the crash will be tested to determine the level and type of impairment, Costantino said.
Six vehicles were involved in the crash, five of which were stopped at red lights.
Nancy Burnett, 47, of Elyria was in a 2015 Ford Explorer. Orie Rollyson, 49, of Elyria, was in a 1994 International flat bed tow truck. Ronald Zidek 71, of Elyria, was in a 2016 Nissan Rogue. James Hoyt, 44, of Grafton, was in a 2003 Dodge Durango. Katrina Mitchell, 27, of Lorain, was in a 2007 Chevrolet Malibu.
Police said Buchs, who was driving a Ford F-150, failed to maintain assured clear distance and struck the rear of both Burnett’s and Rollyson’s vehicles. Rollyson’s vehicle was pushed into the driver’s side of Zidek’s vehicle and Burnett’s vehicle continued through the intersection and struck both Hoyt and Mitchell’s vehicles in the front ends.
Buchs continued through the intersection, striking a curb and continuing off the road, stopping after striking a chain link fence.
Buchs told police he was not injured during the crash. A diesel fuel tank attached to the bed of Buchs’ pickup truck was damaged during the crash and leaked about 74 gallons of diesel fuel into the roadway, closing it for about three hours, Costantino said.
Burnett and her daughter, Alia Bailey, 6, were both flown to Cleveland Metro Health Medical Center with injuries. Bailey’s condition is currently critical and Burnett’s condition is unknown.
Tracy Hoyt, a passenger in the Dodge Durango, broke her leg in the accident and was taken to University Hospitals Elyria Medical Center for treatment. A passenger in Buchs’ truck, Leslie Jackson, 19, was also taken to the Elyria hospital for minor injuries.
The accident is under investigation. Costantino said.
Oil Dri, an industrial-strength soaking substance, was applied to the street, Costantino said.
Mikayla Keating and Philip McCall, both independent contractors with Body Revolution Tattoos, which is at the intersection where the crash took place, said they heard tires squeal before the crash.
Keating then called 911.
“I saw it go down, and it wasn’t good,” Keating said. “I feel so sad for the families, but I was so impressed with how fast the fire and police departments arrived.”
It was after the crash when the two began smelling fuel and made the decision to send home clients just in case the fuel ignited.
“It was a safety issue,” McCall said.
Melissa Linebrink contributed to this report.
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