Fiery crash

Foam covers the area after a fiery two-vehicle crash on Interstate 71 in the early morning hours of June 27 near the Richland/Morrow county line.

MANSFIELD -- A Mansfield man allegedly driving the wrong way on Interstate 71 when he ran head-on into an Ohio State Highway Patrol cruiser Thursday has a lengthy list of traffic convictions, including two past DUIs.

In fact, according to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Michael Marchak Jr., 36, was driving on a suspended license when he collided with Trooper Jason Phillips, 23, at 2:40 a.m. near the Morrow/Richland county line.

Phillips was dispatched from the Mount Gilead Post to look for a potentially impaired-driver near mile post 155. Phillips was then struck head on by Marchak,  who was reportedly driving south in the northbound lanes.

The fiery accident on Interstate 71 closed both sides of the highway while it was cleaned up and investigated.

VIDEO: State trooper in critical condition after head-on crash with Mansfield driver closes I-71

Both men remained in critical condition on Friday morning, according to OSHP Staff Lt. Craig Cvetan. Phillips was in The Ohio State University Medical Center in Columbus. Marchak was taken to OhioHealth Mansfield Hospital.

Cvetan said the crash remains under investigation. No charges have been filed.

Marchak's driving infractions date back to 2000, when he was convicted of DUI as a juvenile. He was convicted of a second DUI in 2004 in Franklin County, according to BMV records obtained by Richland Source.

Most recently, he was convicted in 2018 in Mansfield Municipal Court for failure to control and driving on a suspended license. BMV records show his license has been suspended multiple times in the past.

He was convicted of speeding in Mansfield in 2001 and 2013, driving 70 mph in a 55 mph zone in the second offense. He was found guilty in 2001 in Norwalk Municipal Court  for driving a vehicle without the owner's consent.

Marchak also has a felony record in Richland County Common Pleas Court, convicted of theft/forgery in 2004, drug possession in 2004 and drug trafficking (heroin) in 2013.

City editor. 30-year plus journalist. Husband. Father of 3 grown sons and also a proud grandpa. Prior military journalist in U.S. Navy, Ohio Air National Guard. -- Favorite quote: "Where were you when the page was blank?"

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