Wrong-way driver hurt in I-75 crash with semi

29-year-old man's car collides with a tractor-trailer early Sunday


BOWLING GREEN — A 29-year-old Bowling Green man whose driver’s license had recently been reinstated for the third time after drunken-driving convictions was seriously injured when his pickup truck, headed the wrong way on I-75, collided with a tractor-trailer early Sunday, the Ohio Highway Patrol said.

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

The crash was about seven miles south of the scene of a March, 2012, wrong-way crash that killed three Bowling Green State University students and the wrong-way driver who slammed into the students’ car.

Lundquest was driving south in the northbound lanes of I-75 near Milepost 179 when his pickup collided head-on with a northbound tractor-trailer driven by James H. Mechem, 57, of Columbus, troopers at the patrol’s Bowling Green post reported. The tractor-trailer then went off the left side of the highway into the median.

A dispatcher at the patrol 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 Sunday.

A highway patrol statement said alcohol or 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 was still investigating later Sunday.

Lundquest’s court record includes numerous convictions in Bowling Green Municipal Court, including alcohol-related offenses, and another drunken-driving conviction in Toledo.

His driver’s license had been suspended for two years, ending April 23, following his April 24, 2011, convictions in Bowling Green for operating a vehicle while impaired and following too closely.

More recently, the Wood County Sheriff’s Office charged him May 4 with disorderly conduct with intoxication in connection with an incident in Bowling Green. Further details about that charge were not immediately available.

His previous convictions in Bowling Green include a public indecency charge from 2007 and, on Jan. 21, 2004, counts of driving under the influence and drinking underage. Court records show his blood alcohol content was 0.17, more than double the legal limit of 0.08. He was sentenced to two years probation and his driver’s license was suspended until June 16, 2004.

His license was suspended again, for six months, after his July 18, 2006, conviction in Toledo for driving under the influence.

A rash of wrong-way crashes in the Toledo region in recent years has sparked debate over ways to prevent them, with the crash involving the BGSU students, who were headed to the Detroit airport for spring break, attracting the most attention.

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 freeway’s northbound lanes and struck the students’ car head on. Lein was also killed. Investigators never were able to determine why Lein was driving the wrong way.

Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171.