The News-Messenger and News Herald are counting down the Top 10 stories of 2022, based on our readers’ interest and staff input. Today we look at the No 6 and No. 5 top stories of the year.
No. 6: Snowplow damages 56 vehicles, causes 18 injuries
It was a cold winter afternoon Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022, when a light snow swept across Sandusky and Ottawa counties. It was far from a major winter storm but there was enough snow on the ground to get snow plows busy clearing roads.
Unfortunately for drivers heading eastbound on the Ohio Turnpike, one of the turnpike’s snowplow drivers was clearing lanes for westbound traffic and sent a wintry mix of snow, ice and slush flying over the concrete divider wall into oncoming traffic, damaging about 56 vehicles, causing several crashes and injuring 18 people. None of the injuries was considered life-threatening, according to the Ohio Highway Patrol.
The flying snow and ice blasted the oncoming vehicles “over a couple of miles,” starting near milepost 117 near the Ohio 250 interchange, according to Ferzan Ahmed, executive director of the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission.
The snowplow operator, Timothy Rakay, 54, of Berea, was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation and subsequently was fired.
“As with any incident that results in accident or injury, the employee was immediately removed from shift and sent for mandatory drug and alcohol testing,” Ahmed said after the incident.
The turnpike asked individuals who suffered property damage or were injured to call the turnpike office or file a claim on its website.
“This was an isolated incident involving a single snowplow operator,” Ferzan said in a statement. “It is not representative of our employees or our operations.”
After the investigation was concluded, Ahmed served Rakay with a letter on Feb. 8, 2022, telling him he was fired from his Turnpike job.
“Your employment is being terminated for an egregious Chargeable Accident on January 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.”
No. 5: Local court official and gun-safety advocate dies in UTV crash
Brock Kimmett, a well-known figure in Sandusky County for his work as a court administrator and a promoter of firearms safety, was killed in a tragic accident April 20 while riding in a utility vehicle.
According to the Fremont post of the Ohio Highway Patrol, Kimmet, 58, of Fremont, was a passenger in the Polaris Ranger side-by-side vehicle westbound on Township Road 106 when the UTV’s driver attempted to turn left into a private drive.
A Ford F-150, also westbound, attempted to pass the UTV and struck the vehicle. The utility vehicle ran off the left side of the road, ejecting Kimmett, who suffered fatal injuries.
Kimmet had owned Brock Arms Direct and partnered with other law-enforcement officers in the area to offer free concealed carry classes to teachers.
In 2018, Kimmet told the News-Messenger he was inspired to teach the free weapons class to teachers after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, in which 17 people were killed by a gunman at Marjory Stoneman High School on Feb. 14, 2018.
Tomorrow: The Year’s Top Stories countdown continues with the No. 4 and 3 stories of 2022.