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Published: 5/12/2013

Wrong-way crash on I-75 in Wood County injures B.G. man

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

BOWLING GREEN-– A 29-year-old Bowling Green man was seriously hurt today in a wrong-way crash that he apparently caused by driving his pickup truck into a tractor-trailer on I-75 in Wood County, the Ohio Highway Patrol said.

The collision was just a few miles from the location of a March, 2012 deadly wrong-way crash that killed three Bowling Green State University students and the wrong-way driver who slammed into the students’ car.

Les C. Lundquest was flown to Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center by helicopter after the 1 a.m. crash that occurred about two miles south of Bowling Green in Portage Township. The hospital confirmed Lundquest is a patient but declined to give further information on his condition.

Lundquest was driving a pickup truck south in the northbound lanes of I-75 near Milepost 179 when the vehicle collided head-on with a northbound tractor-trailer driven by James H. Mechem, 57, of Columbus, according to the patrol's Bowling Green post. The tractor-trailer then went off the left side of the highway into the median. A dispatcher with the patrol's Bowling Green post said Lundquest was unconscious Sunday morning and authorities had not yet determined where he entered I-75 driving the wrong way.

Mr. Mechem was treated at Wood County Hospital and released today.

A statement from the patrol said alcohol and drugs were believed to be a factor in the crash, but officials did not elaborate. Both drivers wore seat belts, according to the patrol, which is still investigating.

Lundquest has a list of charges in Bowling Green Municipal Court, including some alcohol-related offenses, and another drunk driving conviction in Toledo Municipal Court.

Bowling Green court records show he was charged and found guilty of operating a vehicle impaired and assured clear distance in Bowling Green on April 24, 2011.  His driver's license was suspended from April 24, 2011 to April 23, 2013. More recently, he was charged with disorderly conduct with intoxication in Bowling Green on May 4.

On Aug. 30, 2007, he was charged with public indecency.

On Dec. 19, 2003, he was charged and found guilty of driving under the influence and drinking underage. Court records show his blood alcohol content was 0.17, which is more than double the legal limit of .08. He was sentenced to two years probation and his driver's license was suspended from the date of that arrest until June 16, 2004.

In Toledo, court records show he was charged and found guilty of driving under the influence on July 18, 2006. His driver's license was again suspended from July 20, 2006 to Jan. 20, 2007.

A rash of wrong-way crashes in the Toledo region in recent years has sparked debate over ways to prevent them.

The March, 2012 crash that killed three BGSU students, and seriously injured two others, occurred in the northbound lanes of I-75 - the same as the crash early Sunday involving Lundquest.

The driver of the students' car, Christina Goyett, 19, of Bay City, Mich., and passengers, Sarah Hammond, 21, of Yellow Springs, Ohio, and Rebekah Blakkolb, 20, of Aurora, Ohio were killed. Two other passengers, Kayla Somoles, of Parma, Ohio, and Angelica Mormile, of Garfield Heights, Ohio, were the lone survivors. The fiery crash occurred when Winfred “Dawn” Lein, 69, of Perrysburg Township drove south in the northbound lanes of the interstate just north of Bowling Green and struck their car head on. Lein was also killed.

The college students had just left Bowling Green to drive to Detroit Metro Airport to catch an early morning flight for a spring break trip to the Dominican Republic when the crash occurred. Investigators never were able to determine why Lein was driving the wrong way.



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