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Police & Fire

Holiday safety urged as fatal crashes rise

Speed, alcohol factor in many deaths

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    Toledo police Chief George Kral, surrounded by other law enforcement and safety personnel, stresses the importance of safe driving at a pre-St. Patrick’s Day news conference.

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Fatal crashes in 2017 are outpacing those from the same period last year locally — which has area authorities concerned as the St. Patrick’s Day weekend approaches.

So far in 2017, there have been 12 fatal crashes in Lucas County — nine of which have been in Toledo compared to two in the same time period in 2016, Toledo police Chief George Kral said during a news conference Wednesday.

Through all of 2016, 25 people died in traffic crashes in Toledo and the surrounding urban areas in 2016, according to the Ohio Highway Patrol, out of 34 total fatal crashes in the county.

Among this year’s fatal crashes, Chief Kral said reckless and excessive speed was determined to be a factor in five crashes and alcohol was either suspected or determined in four.

RELATED ARTICLE: OVI checkpoints slated for Sylvania Twp., Holland

The crashes included three within 14 hours of each other last month to which state troopers responded.

“What my fellow law enforcement leaders and I have to say is very simple: slow down, pay attention to your driving, and don’t drink and drive,” Chief Kral said.

Lt. Shaun Robinson, commander of the highway patrol’s Toledo post, said additional troopers will be on patrol on St. Patrick’s Day weekend.

“It’s going to be a busy weekend, a lot of fun to be had, but plan accordingly,” Lieutenant Robinson said.

Chief Kral recommended using a cab, designated driver, Uber, or service that offers a free ride home on holidays.

Chief Kral also urged drivers to put cell phones down or even lock them in the trunk if they lack self-control to resist answering a call or text message. A vehicle can travel several hundred to thousands of feet when the “driver isn’t looking out of the windshield,” the chief said.

Additionally, four pedestrians have been struck and killed this year, including two involved in unsolved hit-skip accidents, officials said.

One of those people included Homer Thomas, Jr., 65, who, according to family, suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, was hit when he was lying in the road March 2 on Parkwood Street near Stratford Place.

Mr. Thomas was known to lie down if he got scared, his family said.

A heavy vehicle rolled over Mr. Thomas and killed him, then left the scene, police reported.

Those with information are encouraged to call Crime Stopper at 419-255-1111.

With three weeks to go before Toledo’s Mercy Health Glass City Marathon, more runners will be out training for the race, said Jamie Blazevich, coordinator of Lucas County Traffic Safety.

Eight pedestrians were killed last year on Lucas County roadways, including one runner, the agency reported.

The Lucas County Traffic Safety program urged drivers to focus on the road at all times, avoid using phones, reduce speed when approaching crosswalks, and never pass a car stopped at a crosswalk.

As for pedestrians, it’s recommended they stay visible, also eschew cell phones, and never assume vehicles will yield the right-of-way.

Contact Allison Reamer at: areamer@theblade.com, 419-724-6506, or on Twitter @AllisonRBlade.

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