I-70 crash: Wrong-way driver’s death a suicide

Published: Tuesday, April 14, 2015 @ 2:01 PM
Updated: Tuesday, July 07, 2015 @ 7:57 PM


            Investigators still trying to understand head-on crash on I-70

UPDATE @ 515 p.m. (July 7): The death of Christopher Coleman, the 35-year-old driver from Xenia in the I-70 wrong-way crash on April 14, was a suicide, the Clark County coroner has determined.

The ruling is based on all the evidence and reports provided, the coroner said in a prepared statement released by the Ohio Highway Patrol post in Springfield. During the autopsy, there was Cannabinoids (THC) present in Coleman’s blood at the time of the crash, the coroner said in the statement.

The other driver, 64-year-old Craig Martin of Steubenville, was slightly injured in the crash, according to the patrol.

UPDATE @ 3 p.m. April 15:

Christopher Coleman had a lengthy driving record, but the Ohio State Patrol has confirmed he held a valid driver’s license. We are working to find out more about the man who reportedly crossed the interstate and apparently drove intentionally head on into a semi. We’ll have the latest on NewsCenter 7 beginning at 5 p.m. tonight.

UPDATE @ 1:45 p.m. April 15:

The driver who hit the semi after going the wrong way on I-70 has a long criminal record.

Christopher Coleman served time in an Ohio prison for aggravated robbery in a Greene County case. He went to prison on Feb. 14, 2003, and served nearly five years.

Valerie Coleman, spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Corrections, said Coleman was either arrested or violated his post release control in 2011. He completed his parole on April 2, 2013.

According to court records, Coleman had an extensive driving record, including multiple charges and convictions of driving under suspension, the latest in November 2014.

UPDATE @ 10:30 a.m. April 15:

Authorities had received a 911 call about a wrong way driver on Interstate 70 just 16 seconds before the fatal crash occurred.

The Clark County Sheriff’s Office got the first 911 call about the wrong way driver at at 1:45:30 in the afternoon, and the first call about the collision came in at 1:45:46.

UPDATE @ 9:19 p.m. April 14: The investigation into the deadly, head-on two-vehicle crash on I-70 East will include the possibility that the wrong-way driver who plowed into a semitrailer committed suicide, said Sgt. Richard Dixon, Ohio Highway Patrol.

He noted that the crash, which shut down the eastbound lanes for approximately four hours, remains under investigation.

Dixon said investigators have a video of the crash recorded by Jason, a Huber Heights resident who was on his way home from his job in Springfield when the accident occurred. The state patrol also has video recorded from the nearby Speedway corporate office headquarters in Enon, the sergeant said.

Jason, in an interview after the accident, said, “It looked like the semi driver was trying to get away from it … but you really can’t predict a car is gonna come right at ya. I honestly think it was intentional, suicide.”

Chris A. Coleman, 35, of Xenia, died at the scene after he was ejected in the collision involving his 2009 Mazda 3 and a 1998 Freightliner semitrailer hauling steel coils, just east of milepost 48, the Springfield OHP Post said in a statement released tonight.

Craig S. Martin, 64, of Steubenville, who was driving the semi, refused medical treatment at the scene, according to the patrol.

UPDATE @ 7:29 p.m. April 14: I-70 East has been reopened, a dispatcher with the Ohio Highway Patrol said.

UPDATE @ 4:50 p.m. April 14: An eyewitness who recorded the deadly head-on two-vehicle crash on I-70 East said he believes the driver of the car purposely caused the accident, that it was “intentional, suicide.”

The fatality has been identified as Chris A. Coleman, 35, of Xenia, according to crash investigators.

The eyewitness, identified only as Jason (he asked not to be identified by his full name), said the car was in front of him when it suddenly whipped through “one of those U-turn emergency areas” on the interstate.

“All of a sudden, they just drove right at that semi,” Jason said. “It was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen. My phone actually dropped a little bit … because I couldn’t believe what I had seen.”

Jason, a machinist who works in Springfield, has spoken with a 911 operator about what he saw and told the dispatcher about his cellphone video. He was on his way home from work early when the grisly scene unfolded before his eyes.

“It took me a second to even comprehend what I had just seen,” he said. “It looked like the semi driver was trying to get away from it … but you really can’t predict a car is gonna come right at ya. I honestly think it was intentional, suicide.”

When the car jumped over to the other lanes, the driver veered right for the oncoming traffic, the eyewitness said.

“I seen it live and got that rolling through my mind,” he said. “I don’t need to watch the video” anymore.

FIRST REPORT

The Ohio Highway Patrol confirms that one person has been killed in a crash on Interstate 70 East in Clark County this afternoon.

The deceased person was in a car that was driving the wrong way in the eastbound lanes, according to the state patrol. The car crashed head-on into a fully loaded semitrailer shortly before 2 p.m. and both vehicles erupted in flames.

The driver of the semi was able to escape without injury.

The semi was hauling rolls of steel, and the steel was on the highway and on fire when crews arrived.

Initial reports indicate 150 gallons of diesel fuel has spilled, and the EPA has been called to the scene.

As of 3:30 p.m., eastbound lanes were still closed. Officials are hoping to have the highway reopened by 5 p.m.

The best alternate route for motorists on Interstate 70 can exit at Spangler Road, go north on U.S. 40 in Medway, go east on U.S. 40 to U.S. 68 in Springfield, go south on U.S. 68 and back onto eastbound I-70.

What is next for the Senate health care bill?

Published: Tuesday, June 27, 2017 @ 12:48 PM

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky walks onto the U.S. Senate floor Thursday following a meeting with Senate Republicans on their long-awaited health care plan. The Congressional Budget Office has now said that plan could lead to 22 million fewer insured Americans, which could include 680,000 Georgians. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Updated at 1:52 p.m. ET: From The Associated Press: “Lacking votes, Senate GOP leaders abruptly delay vote on health care bill until after July 4th recess.”

Original story: Early Tuesday, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said he will oppose beginning debate on the Senate health care bill, voting no on a procedural vote that would put into motion the final vote for an overhaul of the country's health care system.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), and Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nevada) have said they, too, will likely oppose the procedural motion that allows debate on the bill to start. All four senators have said they would need to see alterations to the GOP version of the bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare before they would vote to move forward.

>> Read more trending news

On Monday, the Congressional Budget Office “scored” -- or estimated the cost -- of the bill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) said he hoped to have a vote on the bill by Thursday before senators leave Washington D.C. for the Fourth of July holiday recess.

So what will happen next with the bill? Will we see a vote? Here’s a look at how the bill would become a law.

Since the CBO score is in, the Senate parliamentarian will meet with McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) to make sure that the bill as written is in line with the rules of reconciliation. Reconciliation allows legislation to pass the Senate with a simple majority vote of 51-49. Reconciliation does not allow for a filibuster, so a senator could not delay a vote on the bill indefinitely.

Once the bill is cleared for reconciliation, and if McConnell feels it can survive, he will take the bill to the Senate floor.

There, the bill faces a procedural step called a “Motion to Proceed” that allows the Senate to begin debate on the legislation. If the vote for that procedure – a simple majority vote – fails, then the bill does not go to the Senate floor for debate or for passage.

If it survives the Motion to Proceed, the bill heads to the floor.

Once the bill is introduced, a 20-hour window for debate begins. The debate time is divided between Democrats and Republicans. The debate process allows for speeches about the bill and amendments and motions to the legislation.

After the 20 hours of debate, there is a little more time for senators to offer amendments to the bill with no debate.

Eventually, someone will call for a “Motion to End Debate,” otherwise known as a “cloture” vote. The cloture vote ends all discussion on the bill and moves the legislation to one final vote on the Senate floor.

During that vote, McConnell can only afford to lose two GOP votes and still see the bill pass, since all of the Democratic senators have said they will vote no on the bill. He would do that with the help of Vice President Mike Pence, since the vice president has the power to break a tie vote in the Senate.

Oakwood business district to be disrupted by timber wall repairs

Published: Tuesday, June 27, 2017 @ 2:32 PM


            The area around Shops of Oakwood on Far Hills Avenue will receive repairs to the timber wall. Work will continue for two to three months. CHRIS STEWARD/STAFF
            Chris Stewart

The city of Oakwood will soon begin repairs to rehab the timber wall in the Far Hills Business District, according to a release by Assistant City Manager Jay Weiskiercher.

The work includes replacing rotted or warped wood, sanding the wall as necessary and applying fresh coats of paint. Crews will be working on one block at a time, and traffic on the adjacent cruise lane will be maintained.

MORE: Oakwood receives state financial award

During the repairs, there will be brief periods when parking near the wall is restricted. Crews will begin work at the southeast corner of the district and proceed north before crossing over to the west side of Far Hills and working south.

The project should be completed by late August or early September. For more information, contact Weiskiercher at 937-294-0411.

FOLLOW: Tre Hogue on Facebook and Twitter

Fire chief: Unknown substance mailed to Islamic Center in West Chester

Published: Tuesday, June 27, 2017 @ 12:40 PM
Updated: Tuesday, June 27, 2017 @ 2:26 PM

UPDATE @ 2:20 p.m.:

West Chester Twp. Fire Chief Rick Prinz said a white, powdery substance mailed to the Islamic Center in West Chester Twp. has been determined to be non-hazardous.

It is unknown what the substance is, according to Prinz.

MORE: Protesters square off at Islamic Center in Butler County

West Chester police will continue investigating the criminal aspect of the letter that was sent with a threat.

UPDATE @ 1:10 p.m.:

According to Barb Wilson, crews are still conducting tests on the substance because initial tests were inconclusive.

The building was not evacuated, but a children’s camp was moved to another part of the campus.

INITIAL BURST:

The West Chester Twp. Hazmat Team and police and fire are at the Islamic Center now investigating a letter containing white powder that arrived in the mail at around 11:30 a.m. Tuesday.

RELATED: Five things to know about the Islamic Center

Township spokeswoman Barb Wilson said they have not evacuated the center at this time, it will depend what they determine the powder is.

Senate will not vote on health care this week

Published: Tuesday, June 27, 2017 @ 2:18 PM
Updated: Tuesday, June 27, 2017 @ 2:19 PM

Prescription bottle with pills

Facing rebellion in his ranks, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will send GOP senators home for the July 4 recess without having them vote on a bill replacing the 2010 health care law known as Obamacare.

RELATED: American Medical Association poll: Ohioans don’t want cuts to Medicaid

McConnell made the announcement during a caucus lunch of Senate Republicans Tuesday afternoon. Senators including Rand Paul of Kentucky and Susan Collins of Maine were among a handful of Republican senators who balked at the Senate’s version of the bill to replace the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

RELATED: Short on votes, Senate delays vote on health care

The last-minute decision to pull the bill before an expected vote mirrors how the House earlier this year had to pull its initial bill repealing Obamacare before later narrowly passing a bill to replace to 2010 health care law in May. It came even as the White House began a full-throated push to get GOP senators aboard, inviting all Senate Republicans to the White House at 4 p.m. today.

Among those who had expressed concern about the bill were Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio. But Portman did not say he planned to vote against the bill. He did, however, express concerns that the Senate bill would roll back a Medicaid expansion that allowed Ohio Gov. John Kasich to insure 700,000 more Ohioans. Portman worries such a roll-back would cause the state’s drug-addicted population to lose coverage.

RELATED: Gov. Kasich urges Sen. Portman to fight health care bill

Kasich, in D.C. for a board meeting with Siemans, told reporters at the National Press Club that he does not support the Senate bill as written. He said he had urged Portman not to accept “a few billion” to fight the nation’s opioid epidemic in exchange for drastic cuts to Medicaid, saying that the former would be “like spitting in the ocean.”

Kasich said he last spoke to Portman, who may be a key swing vote on the Senate health-care vote that could be taken on as early as this week, few weeks back.

“He knows what my concerns are,” he said, but cautioned “I don’t cast his vote.”

A Congressional Budget Office report Monday that found some 22 million would lose health-care coverage over the next decade under the Senate bill.

Kasich — who was already scheduled to be in town for a meeting with the board of directors of Siemens — has long expressed concern about House and Senate Republicans’ plans to roll back a Medicaid expansion from the 2010 Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.

RELATED: Kasich calls for bipartisan talks on health care in Congress

Kasich — who also objected to the House bill that passed in May — said the current bill is “unacceptable” and lacks the resources to cover the mentally ill, addicted and working poor. He supports making mental health and addiction services “essential benefits” that states are required to offer, but is more concerned that the drastic cuts in expenditures will leave people without coverage.

“If they don’t want to improve this bill, I’m not for this bill,” he said.

A survey released Tuesday shows that just 14 percent of registered voters in Ohio want Congress to scale back federal dollars for Medicaid, a joint federal and state program that Gov. John Kasich used to extend health coverage to more than 700,000 low-income people in the state.

The survey, sponsored by the American Medical Association and conducted by the Republican polling firm of Public Opinion Strategies, strongly suggests voters in Ohio are sharply opposed to many of the features of the health-care bill on the Senate floor backed to Republican leaders and President Donald Trump.

The poll shows that 47 percent of Ohio voters say federal and state spending for Medicaid should remain the same while 32 percent want to see spending increased. The poll also shows that 59 percent of Ohio voters approve of the Medicaid program in the state as it now exists.