Thrown debris may be cause of fatal truck crash

| 8/6/2002

Ohio authorities continue to investigate a fiery crash that killed a truckdriver last month on Route 11. They are also intensifying efforts to solve a recent rash of debris throwing incidents on in southern Ashtabula County.

Debris thrown reportedly may be a factor in the crash that killed trucker Gregory R. Holcomb of Albion, PA. Holcomb was driving southbound on Route 11 near the Mill Road overpass near New Lyme Township about 11:50 p.m. July 22.

Holcomb's semi allegedly drifted off the right side of the road shortly after it passed underneath the overpass, struck several trees and jackknifed. The truck, loaded, with paper, then burst into flames. Holcomb was pronounced dead at the scene.

Ohio Highway Patrol Lt. James Sivak, Ashtabula post commander, said it's unknown if debris from the Mill Road overpass contributed to the crash, but added that the investigation was continuing. While investigating this incident, troopers discovered rock debris in the highway's northbound lanes just south of the overpass. Debris was not found in the southbound lanes, the direction Holcomb was driving.

Tire marks reportedly show no signs of Holcomb attempting to turn or slow down, indicating it was unlikely he fell asleep or drove off the road accidentally. Investigators have not ruled out he was unconscious, which they said could mean he had a medical problem. Autopsy results to determine the exact cause of death have not been released by the county coroner.

Since March, Lt. Sivak said there have been four cases of debris thrown off Route 11 overpasses in the area. Each incident took place at night or early in the morning.

Sivak said county sheriff's department deputies and area law enforcement auxiliary officers have teamed with the highway patrol on these cases. Officers reportedly will intensify their efforts to patrol the 22 overpasses in the area. Anyone with information about these incidents should call the Ashtabula post at (440) 969-1155.
--Keith Goble, staff writer