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Published: Saturday, 3/3/2012


Gone in an instant

Four lives ended in the blink of an eye yesterday, cut short by a driver going the wrong way on Interstate 75. The accident was the latest in a string of similar tragedies. State transportation officials should take action, however imperfect, to prevent more such deaths.

Winifred Lein, 69, of Perrysburg, the driver of the wrong-way vehicle, died in the fiery aftermath of the early-morning crash. Two passengers in the other vehicle, Kayla Somoles, 19, of Parma, Ohio, and Angelica Mormile, 19, of Garfield Heights, Ohio, were in critical condition.

Wrong-way crashes occur too often, almost always with deadly results. Last October, a wrong-way crash on I-75 in North Toledo killed Matthew Davis, 37, of Toledo. Five other people, including the wrong-way driver, were injured.

In September 2011, Toledo police killed a motorist as they chased a suspect the wrong way, also on I-75. In 2009, a woman was killed by an eastbound driver in the westbound lanes of I-475. In 2007, five members of a Maryland family were killed by a driver who was traveling north on the south side of I-280.

The profile of a wrong-way driver is a drunk male driving in the early hours of the morning, not long after last call. The driver in yesterday's 2:15 a.m. crash was female, and it is not known whether she was intoxicated.

Officials say that spike strips would prevent vehicles from getting on highways in the wrong direction. But they also would stop emergency vehicles that sometimes need to enter the highway the wrong way to get to accidents. Also, spike strips loosen over time and could puncture the tires of people going in the right direction.

Those concerns likely appear trivial to the families of Bowling Green State University students Christina Goyette, 19, of Bay City, Mich.; Sarah Hammond, 21, of Yellow Springs, Ohio; and Rebekah Blakkolb, 20, of Aurora, Ohio. Four lives, gone in an instant. It is simply wrongheaded not to try to do more to prevent wrong-way drivers.

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