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Published: Sunday, 11/21/2004

13 are hurt, one seriously, in 6-vehicle U.S. 24 crash

LIBERTY CENTER, Ohio - A good Samaritan helped an injured driver yesterday escape her burning sport utility vehicle that was involved in a six-vehicle pileup that also hurt 12 youths, one seriously, on U.S. 24 near Henry County Road 3 about four miles southeast of here.

The youths were part of a church youth group on their way to a nursing home, the Ohio State Highway Patrol said.

Jillian M. Badenhop, 22, of Liberty Center was pulled out of her vehicle by Patricia Rupert, 43, of Grand Rapids Ohio, whose minivan was struck by the burning vehicle, troopers from the Defiance patrol post said.

Ms. Badenhop was in fair condition in St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center last night, troopers at the patrol's Defiance post said.

A semi driven by Sadaqat Iqbal, 24, of Ontario was eastbound on U.S. 24 about 12:45 p.m. when it crossed the center line to pass another eastbound vehicle, causing oncoming traffic to slow down.

At that point a westbound semi driven by Steve Leclere, 33, of Quebec struck the rear of the westbound Badenhop SUV, which immediately burst into flames and struck a westbound car driven by Kristen Mitchell, 19, of Liberty Center.

The flaming Badenhop SUV struck the westbound Rupert minivan, which then struck a minivan driven by Heather Teet, 18, of Whitehouse, which was also westbound.

Bridget Smith, 12, a passenger in the Teet minivan, was in serious condition last night in St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center last night.

The rest of the youths were treated in Henry County Hospital.

They were:

  • Joey Sharp, 15, Wes Sharp, 12, Kathleen Rupert, 15, and Becky Ransberger, 14, all passengers in the Rupert minivan;

  • Alexis Gors, 12; Holly Delger, 14, and Brittney Wilson, whose exact age was unknown, all passengers in the Teet minivan

  • Caitlin Westhoven, 13; Caroline Smith, 12, Brittany Pilliod, 14, and Jessica Mitchell, 14, who were passengers in a car driven by Kristen Mitchell.

    Mr. Leclere was charged with aggravated vehicular assault. Mr. Iqbal was cited for driving left of center.

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