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Stream of witnesses, victim call 911 to report fatal accident


Diana Dixon, 48, of Wooster, Ohio, who had stopped north of the first crash and was running back to assist, jumped off of the overpass into the median of the Ohio Turnpike, sustaining critical injuries.

The Blade/Lisa Dutton
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Maumee police received several 911 calls about the horrific I-475 crash that claimed the lives of three people.

“Yeah, there is an accident on 475 ... his head is bleeding. He is in a black truck,” the first caller, a woman, told the Maumee 911 operator.

Three people were killed early Thursday when a truck pulling two trailers crashed into wreckage from an earlier accident on I-475/U.S. 23 in Maumee’s northwest corner, while another driver who had stopped to offer assistance was seriously injured after jumping off a bridge to avoid being hit.

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The 5:25 a.m. collision shut down the freeway’s northbound lanes, north of Salisbury Road, for more than eight hours while investigators gathered evidence from what Lt. John Altman, commander of the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s Toledo post, said was a complicated accident scene Another caller to 911 said the pickup truck had sped up and collided with a truck.

“Semi versus a Dodge Ram pickup truck,” said a male caller. “The pickup was flipped. I think the semi driver looks alright. …‘You alright? I have 911 on the line.’”

The caller later says the pickup was “spun around,” not flipped, that it was still in traffic and he could not reach the wrecked vehicle.

“He is still in the inside lane. He’s got traffic blocked. There is three or four people with him. But he was trying to merge and sped up to try to get past the semi and got pinched between him and the guardrail.”

The same man called back to say a second truck had hit the first truck.

“He just plowed right through man. They’d better hurry,” said the unidentified man.

Pronounced dead at the scene were James South, 68, of Monclova Township, the driver of a pickup involved in the initial accident; Dale Barnhiser, 52, of Grand Rapids, Ohio, a motorcyclist involved in the second collision, and Jodi Lubas, 40, of Maumee, who had stopped her car beyond Mr. South’s wrecked pickup to offer assistance.

Troopers said Diana Dixon, 48, of Wooster, Ohio, who also had stopped to offer help after passing the wreckage of Mr. South’s pickup, jumped from the freeway viaduct and fell to the Ohio Turnpike’s median to avoid being hit by careening wreckage after the second crash.

She called 911 after jumping and can be heard yelling for help before talking to the 911 operator.

“Yeah 911. I need some help. ... There’s an accident the truck went and hit another pickup. Yeah, I jumped off the bridge, My back is broke,” Ms. Dixon told the 911 operator.

The operator asked her were she was and she responded that she did not know.

“I’m beneath the bridge where the truck ran into the other truck. I jumped off the bridge to keep the truck from hitting me,” she said.

The operator said: “And you’re injured?”

She responds: “My back is broke.”

She then says her name and “help me please.”

She tells the operator that she stopped her truck to go help victims from the accident and that her truck was not hit.

The 911 operator keeps Ms. Dixon on the line and transfers a paramedic into the call.

She tells the 911 operator again and the paramedic several times that she had jumped off the bridge and that her back was broken before the call was cut off.

Ms. Dixon was operating a tanker truck. Authorities said she was in critical condition when she taken to the University of Toledo Medical Center, the former Medical College of Ohio Hospital.

The hospital said Friday they had no information on a patient by her name.

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