PREBLE COUNTY — Wednesday, Oct. 2, was a deadly day on Preble County roads and highways.
According to Preble County Sheriff Mike Simpson, within 31 minutes Wednesday afternoon, the PC Sheriff’s Office Dispatch Center was handling three fatal crashes in the county, and five people were killed.
Simpson reported PCSO investigators handled two of the crashes simultaneously.
The first crash occurred at approximately 4:03 p.m. on Somers Gratis Road, just west of Ohio 503.
“The preliminary investigation revealed that a 1999 Pontiac Grand Prix was traveling east on Somers Gratis Road and struck a Gleaner combine with a corn head that was traveling westbound,” Simpson said in a press release. “The driver of the Pontiac, Jessica Johnson, 33, of Gratis Township, was pronounced dead at the scene.”
Johnson was the only occupant in the vehicle, according to Simpson, who said the driver of the combine, Jeremy Bendell, 42, of Camden, was not injured in the crash.
Johnson was transported to the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office where an autopsy was to be conducted.
Somers Gratis Road was closed for approximately four hours while deputies conducted their investigation, Simpson said. Gratis EMS, Gratis Fire Department and the West Elkton-Gratis Township Fire Department responded to, and assisted at, the scene.
The second crash occurred at approximately 4:10 p.m. on U.S. 127 at Consolidated Road, south of Eaton.
“The preliminary investigation revealed that a 1994 Harley Davidson motorcycle was traveling southbound on U.S. 127 and traveled left of center,” Simpson reported. “The motorcycle struck a 2012 Ford Escape that was traveling northbound. Upon impact, the SUV flipped onto its top. The driver of the motorcycle was ejected from the bike and was not wearing a helmet.”
The driver of the motorcycle, Levi A. Robertson, 25, of Camden, was pronounced dead at the scene, according to Simpson. The driver of the SUV, Robert Burt, 80, and his wife, Valerie, both of Camden, were transported to Kettering’s Preble ER in Eaton, where they were treated and released.
Robertson was transported to the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office, where an autopsy was to be conducted.
Gasper Township Fire & EMS responded to the scene. Eaton Police, Camden Police, and the Ohio Department of Transportation rerouted traffic for approximately two hours while deputies conducted their investigation, Simpson said.
Both crashes remain under investigation by the Preble County Sheriff’s Office and the Preble County Coroner’s Office.
Three people died as a result of a a crash involving four vehicles on Interstate 70 westbound near the Ohio/Indiana line in Preble County, according to Ohio State Highway Patrol reports.
The chain-reaction crash involved three commercial vehicles and one passenger car, according to reports. On Thursday morning, OSP officials released the names of the victims.
Richard Shiverdecker, 71, and his wife Karen Shiverdecker, 65, both of Lewisburg, were the victims in the passenger vehicle, Sgt. Jeff Kramer of the Dayton Post reported.
A semi truck driver, Robert Fryklund, 68, of Abbotsford, Wisconsin, was also killed in the crash.
I-70 westbound was completely shut down for several hours until crews could clear the scene.
At press time, the OSP reported driver inattention was the cause of the triple fatality.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH.