A Temperance man was critically injured today after his sport-utility vehicle slammed into an Ohio Department of Transportation maintenance truck whose workers were picking up litter on the side of I-75 North.
Ken Harder, 51, of Temperance, was listed in critical condition at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center tonight, said Toledo Police spokesman Joe Heffernan.
Sergeant Heffernan said there were two ODOT workers on litter detail outside of the F350 Ford pickup truck, which was parked off the interstate in the non-driving lanes near the Bancroft Street exit. He said Mr. Harder slammed into the back of the ODOT vehicle, hitting worker Mary Rich, 51, with a side mirror.
Mr. Harder was thrown from his 2000 GMC Jimmy. He said Ms. Rich was also taken to St. Vincent but she was not seriously hurt. The second ODOT worker, whose name was unavailable, was not injured.
The two-person crew had pulled over to pick up a tarp that was on the side of the road when their vehicle, a small dump truck, was hit at about 4 p.m. Northbound I-75 was closed for three and a half hours after the incident, reopening at about 7:30 p.m.
The unoccupied truck was pushed 35 to 40 feet by the impact and swung about 45 degrees. Its dump bed penetrated the SUV's cabin, with the rear of it pushing back to the rear seat on the passenger side.
The driver's side was relatively intact. The wreckage ended up directly beneath the Bancroft overpass, with fluid spilling across the freeway and debris scattered around it and up to 20 yards forward.
Todd Audet, ODOT's district deputy director in Bowling Green, said he heard about the crash on his way back to the Toledo area from a meeting in Columbus, and immediately worried that it might resemble a collision on I-475 in 2011 during which several pedestrians at a crash scene were hit by a tractor-trailer that struck that incident's wreckage.
He said he was relieved to learn that the transportation department employees were safe.