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Published: Saturday, 11/25/2000

Toledo motorist killed in I-475 rear-end crash

BY ROBIN ERB
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A 49-year-old nurse's aide died yesterday after his disabled sedan became snarled in I-475 traffic, was struck in the rear by a family's minivan, and then grazed by several passing vehicles as it slid down the expressway.

Several other motorists sought medical treatment for injuries following the chain-reaction pileup in holiday traffic at 11:20 a.m. on westbound I-475 near the Douglas Road exit ramp.

Larry Allen, of Brand Whitlock, was pronounced dead about 12:30 p.m. in Medical College of Ohio Hospitals, said Steve Kahle, an investigator for the Lucas County coroner's office. A final ruling on the death is pending an autopsy.

Listed in good condition in Toledo Hospital was Mr. Allen's passenger, Jeffrey Gibson, 41, whose last known address was Amelia Street.

Injured and treated in Toledo Hospital were the passengers of a van that struck Mr. Allen's Honda sedan, Pam Chew, 40, and her children, Kelsey, 6, and Mikayla, 8, all of Mansfield, O.

A driver of a third car, Janetta Corder, 57, of Oakdale Avenue, and her son, David, 9, were treated in St. Charles Mercy Hospital.

The driver of the van, Mrs. Chew's husband, Brian, 40, was not injured.

Police spent several hours taking measurements at the scene, interviewing witnesses at the hospital, and reconstructing the crash.

Police said Mr. Allen was in the middle lane of westbound I-475 near Douglas when his car apparently became disabled and drifted to a stop. A red pickup behind him swerved abruptly and narrowly missed Mr. Allen's car.

But Mr. Chew, who was traveling with his family behind the pickup, could not react in time, police said.

“He said he looked, saw the van, and hit the brakes, but it was too late,” Officer Pat McCloskey said.

Mr. Chew's minivan slammed into the rear of the sedan, crushing it and forcing it onto the hood of the minivan. As the tangled vehicles careened about 70 feet down the highway and into a wall, at least two other vehicles grazed them, lead investigator Officer Ron Frederick said.

Officer McCloskey identified one of those drivers as Ms. Corder; and the other as Amy Kovacs, 24, who did not seek medical treatment.

The vehicles came to rest, blocking traffic that apparently was heavier than usual with Christmas shoppers. Police and fire crews rushed to the scene, many having to travel the wrong way on the Douglas exit ramp to reach the injured. Traffic for a short time was stopped in both directions and police shut down westbound I-475 from I-75 until after noon.

Mr. Allen and Mr. Gibson had to be cut out of their vehicle.

“It was tight,” battalion fire Chief Bill Sulewski said. “The back seat and the front seat were intertwined.”

Although eastbound traffic was blocked only temporarily, the wreckage and the police investigation partly blocked westbound traffic for about two hours.

Officer Frederick said it does not appear that speed was an issue in the collision, and there most likely will be no charges.

He said he was not surprised by the accident, which occurred on one of the busiest shopping days of the year, and therefore one of the heaviest days for traffic.

It did not appear that the people in the accident were going shopping.

However, Officer Frederick earlier in the day had been writing tickets for red-light violations at Monroe Street and Secor Road. He said the day after Thanksgiving is always a busy and chaotic day on the streets.

“It's crazy out there,” he said. “Every single time [the light changed], there'd be no less than four cars through. You can't [ticket] most of them because you can't even get out into the traffic in time.”

Mr. Allen had been a nurse's aide since 1995 at Emerald Staffing Short Notice Nursing, a Toledo service that provides staff to nursing homes.

“He was very friendly, very outgoing,” said his supervisor, Fran Knox. “Every facility we sent him to, they liked him.”



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