ASHLAND -- Four people died Wednesday night on Interstate 71 when a semi-truck apparently slammed into the rear of a car as it was pulling off the road for a traffic violation, according to Ohio State Highway Patrol.
As of Thursday morning, the patrol's Ashland Post was still investigating the 11:30 p.m. crash that involved a semi-truck and a White 2009 Saturn Outlook on Interstate 71, south of U.S. 250.
The accident closed southbound I-71 until around 7 a.m. Thursday, according to the Ohio Dept. of Transportation.
Troopers initiated a traffic stop with the Saturn Outlook for a speed violation in the southbound lanes of I-71, near mile post 184 in Ashland County. Initially, the vehicle was moving towards the shoulder. However, the driver came to a stop in the far-right lane, the patrol said.
The trooper then gave orders over his public address system for the vehicle to continue off the roadway and pull onto the right shoulder.
Seconds later, a commercial motor vehicle failed to move over for the traffic stop and struck the Saturn as it was moving off of the roadway. The Saturn was forced off the right side of the roadway and pushed into a tree line where it struck several trees before the commercial vehicle came to rest on top of it.
The driver of the commercial motor vehicle was identified as Charles C. Hunt, 54, of Van Buren, Ind. Hunt was transported to Ashland Samaritan Hospital with minor injuries.
The Saturn had seven occupants, four of which were pronounced dead at the scene. Three other occupants were transported by Life Flight and EMS to multiple area hospitals.
The patrol is currently attempting to identify all the subjects and notify next of kin.
Assisting on scene was Ashland Fire and EMS, Jeromesville Fire and EMS, Ashland Coroner’s Office, Ashland County Sheriff’s Office, Ashland Police Department, Ohio Department of Transportation, and Aber’s Towing.
The crash remains under investigation and no charges have been filed yet.
In the news release, the patrol reminded motorists to move over or slow down when approaching any vehicle with flashing or rotating lights parked on the roadside.