Sunday, June 1, 2003

Three die in fiery crash on I-74

Car went wrong way, crashed into truck, burst into flames

By Susan Vela
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Three people were killed Saturday when their car, going the wrong way on Interstate 74, swerved through a maze of vehicles, then crashed head-on with a Metropolitan Sewer District truck.

Police and rescuers stand beside the remains of a car that struck a Metropolitan Sewer District truck on westbound I-74.
(Tony Jones photo)
| ZOOM |
The 1990 Buick Century burst into flames along the highway's westbound lanes, trapping the three just beyond the Montana Avenue exit ramp on which they had traveled shortly before 8 a.m., Cincinnati Police officials said.

"It's one of the more horrific traffic accidents that I've been at. They had to use the Jaws of Life to even get the bodies out of the car," said Lt. Kurt Byrd, department spokesman, who spoke at the crash site in Westwood.

The Buick Century's burnt metal frame was towed away Saturday afternoon.

The truck was on its side on the grass.

The Buick driver was Kisha Johnson, 23, of Price Hill. She most likely died from the force of the crash with the truck, which was traveling at least 55 mph, Byrd said.

Her two passengers were Timothy Gaines, 22, of Westwood; and Keon Grimes, 24, of Mount Airy.

Investigators said they aren't sure why the vehicle entered the I-74 exit ramp.

Johnson's driver's license had been suspended at the time of the crash, according to police.

"A mistake can happen. It's happened before. All the witnesses put the car at fault," Byrd said.

Evester Cooper of Westwood was driving the truck. A sewer district employee for more than 20 years, he was treated and released from Good Samaritan Hospital.

Byrd said seatbelts probably wouldn't have saved the car's occupants from the crash's impact and flames.

Cooper was hauling an empty wastewater tank to the sewer district's Taylor Creek facility when the car drove into his path.

His boss, sewer district director Patrick Karney, said Cooper was still stunned after the accident.

"He's as good as he can be after going though what he went through this morning," Karney said.

"He was troubled, but he seemed to be recovering."


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