DAYTON — More people have come forward after issues with a manhole on U.S. 35 at Smithville Road caused a crash that seriously injured a 10-year-old girl on Christmas Eve.
“I was driving, talking, next thing I know, it sounded like I hit a boulder or a brick wall, I don’t know. It jerked our car to the right,” said Emily Tucker of Beavercreek. She was driving on U.S. 35 west around 5 p.m. that day before Christmas Eve when she said she hit something on the highway.
“There was something in the highway that we didn’t see and my car has a gas leak and I have two little babies with me and I need someone to send help,” Tucker told dispatchers when she called 911.
She had her 6-week old twins in the back of her car when she had to pull over. She thought she’d hit boulder or brick wall, but now she believes it was the same manhole that caused a crash that seriously injured a girl.
“It was so scary, like I was freaking out. I’m so thankful we’re OK and it could have been a lot worse; however, something needs to be done about this,” Tucker said.
The City of Dayton and the Ohio Department of Transportation have not claimed responsibility for who is responsible for maintenance of the manhole.
“Once a state or U.S. route enters a municipality it typically becomes their responsibility,” said Matt Bruning, Press Secretary for ODOT.
Bryan Taulbee, spokesman for the city of Dayton, said, “the accident involving the manhole cover on U.S. Rt. 35 was located within an ODOT construction zone. This was part of an ODOT-administered contract to expand U.S. Rt. 35 from two lanes to three lanes and involved the installation of a storm sewer and associated manhole covers.”
ODOT reported in October that paving for 2021 on the widening project was complete and barrels were removed from the highway.
The city is working with ODOT to determine the cause of the accident and ODOT has shut down the lane where the accident happened pending the outcome of the investigation, said Taulbee.
Tucker said a police officer never came to her on the highway after her vehicle was disabled. Dispatch records show that a State Farm Freeway Safety Vehicle was sent to the scene.
“I’m not sure what that was about,” Tucker told News Center 7′s Haley Kosik. “And come to find out, I hear of a story of this girl who broke her legs on Christmas Eve morning and I feel like, had a policeman dispatched to the proper location and fix the situation, this could have saved her legs honestly.”
Tucker went back to Dayton police Tuesday to file her report.
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