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Published: Friday, 4/30/2010

Trooper hurt in pike crash

BLADE STAFF

MONTPELIER, Ohio - An Ohio Highway Patrol trooper who was hurt in a crash yesterday while conducting a traffic stop on the Ohio Turnpike in Williams County is going to make a complete recovery, authorities said.

Trooper Tommy Alexander, 41, of Springfield Township, who joined the patrol in 1993, suffered a shoulder injury, the patrol said.

He was flown to University of Toledo Medical Center, the former Medical College of Ohio, where a hospital spokesman said he was in fair condition.

Trooper Alexander of the patrol's Swanton post was standing on the side of the turnpike near a minivan he had stopped for a traffic violation about 8:30 a.m. when his cruiser was struck from behind by a FedEx tractor-trailer rig - containing a cab and two trailers.

It happened about 13 miles east of the Indiana state line on the Ohio Turnpike, about 60 miles west of Toledo, the patrol said.

Carol Thomas, 44, of Toledo, the driver of the stopped minivan, was shaken up. She was taken to Montpelier Hospital, where she was treated.

She was stopped for speeding but was not cited, according to the patrol.

"It was pretty tragic but with a somewhat good ending in that both the trooper and the driver of the van are going to be OK," said Sgt. Chuck Lamberts, who took the crash report.

"When I got to the scene I saw a smashed patrol car and a van with severe damage to the left side."

The driver of the FedEx truck, Patricia Chapman, 53, of Murchison, Texas, and passenger Jiri Siuda, 34, of Frisco, Texas, were not hurt, the patrol said.

Ms. Chapman was cited for failure to slow down and change lanes for an emergency vehicle as well as for failure to drive within marked lanes on an expressway. The cruiser had its lights on when it was struck, the patrol said.

"The trooper was between the van and the guardrail when he was struck by the van, which was pushed over by the FedEx semi truck," the sergeant said.

The semi then went through the guardrail and overturned in the ditch, he said.

Ms. Chapman told the patrol she was looking over her left shoulder at the time of the crash, while looking for a place to stop, the sergeant said.

Trooper Alexander, a graduate of Sandusky High School, was named trooper of the year at the patrol's Swanton post in 1996 when he was 28.

At the time, he was living in Toledo with his wife, Robyn, and three children.

The sergeant said he could recall about half a dozen cases during his nearly 30-year career at the post in which a trooper was struck during a traffic stop.

He said those cases include Sgt. Fred Raby, who was struck under similar circumstances about 20 years ago and is now in a partial coma in an Ohio long-term care facility.

- Mike Sigov



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