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Authorities fire plow driver who damaged dozens of vehicles, injured nearly 20 people on an Ohio highway

Erie county crash snow plow
Posted at 9:17 PM, Feb 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-09 21:17:45-05

COLUMBUS, Ohio — An Ohio Turnpike snow plow truck driver has been fired for his "grossly negligent behavior" during a snow storm last month when he drove his vehicle at a high rate of speed, spraying snow and ice into oncoming traffic which resulted in a 55-car crash and 18 people injured.

In a letter from Ferzan Ahmed, executive director of the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission to the driver, officials outlined the dangerous actions that happened when the crash occurred on Jan. 23.

"Notice is hereby given that the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission is terminating your employment effective immediately. Your employment is being terminated for an egregious Chargeable Accident on Jan. 23, 2022, while engaging in grossly negligent behavior as to endanger life, property, public safety or otherwise cause the Commission to be liable for damage. Further, you failed to responsibly perform duties that are within the proper scope of your position as a Maintenance Worker Class II Roadway employee,” Ahmed said in the letter.

The crashes happened just before 2 p.m. local time as the driver was heading down an Ohio highway. While allegedly driving at a high rate of speed, he sent snow and ice flying across a median divider into opposing lanes. The driver was caught on a dashcam that showed him keeping pace with other cars on the highway.

Following the incident, the driver was placed on administrative leave and then notified of his termination Tuesday.

The Ohio Turnpike called what happened an "isolated incident" involving a single snowplow driver and is not representative of its employees or its operations.

Lindsay Schulman was among those drivers that got caught in the slush and said she's still waiting for her SUV to be repaired, almost $8,000 worth of damage from the plow truck's slush so far.

"He certainly made a very poor decision in how he was driving and I would hate to see this happen again because it was one of the scariest moments," she said. "I’m not optimistic my car will be back anytime soon."

The Ohio State Highway Patrol continues to investigate the incident. No charges have been filed against the driver yet.

As of Tuesday, 51 vehicle owners have filed property damage claims with the Ohio Turnpike, officials said.

This story was originally published by Drew Scofield and Clay LePard of WEWS in Cleveland.

RELATED: Ohio Turnpike snowplow damages at least 40 vehicles, injures 12