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Published: Friday, 12/1/2006

Report says physician ran light in fatal tanker crash

LIMA, Ohio - A Lima physician killed when his sport utility vehicle collided with a tanker Nov. 14 had run a red light, investigators said yesterday.

Capt. Steve Hoverman of the Allen County Sheriff's Office released details of the fiery crash for the first time, confirming that Dr. Matthew J. Heider, 44, of Cridersville was at fault. All of the witnesses, including three motorists who were at the intersection of Eastown and Allentown roads where the crash occurred, said Dr. Heider had the red light, while the tanker driven by Ronald E. Funk, 50, of Leipsic, passed through the intersection on a green light.

Captain Hoverman said he has no idea why Dr. Heider, a Toledo native and an anesthesiologist in Lima, failed to stop. The traffic signal at the busy intersection was operating correctly.

Dr. Heider was southbound on Eastown Road about 8:40 p.m. when he collided with an Ottawa Oil Co. tanker loaded with 8,500 gallons of gasoline. The tanker was westbound on Allentown Road. Captain Hoverman said Mr. Funk attempted to avoid the collision, but could not.

"We had evidence of evasive action where he tried to stop by locking up his brakes, and he tried to swerve to the left, which is a normal reaction," he said.

Both Mr. Funk and a passenger in Dr. Heider's SUV, his daughter, Rachel, 14, escaped from the vehicles with minor injuries.

No citations will be issued in the case, which Captain Hoverman said he considers closed.

The intersection remains closed to traffic because of severe damage that resulted from the explosion and the gasoline spill. Both the Allen County Engineer's Office and the Ohio Department of Transportation are working to rebuild and reopen the intersection west of Lima.

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