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Published: Wednesday, July 10, 2019 @ 1:00 AM
— UPDATE @ 11:24 a.m. July 10
Kenneth B. Bell, 78, of Springboro, has been identified as the driver who was stopped by Fairborn police going the wrong way on I-675 Sunday night.
Bell is scheduled to be arraigned Friday in Fairborn Municipal Court.
Less than a month after a 23-year-old Wright State University student was killed in a wrong-way crash on I-675, Fairborn police on Sunday stopped a wrong-way driver near the previous wreck.
The traffic stop Sunday night occurred about five miles north of the June 21 fatal crash that took the life of Paige Patrick, of Vandalia. No charges have been filed yet against the wrong-way driver, 53-year-old Ronald Myer, although alcohol is suspected as a factor, according to Beavercreek police.
Fairborn police said intoxication is also suspected in Sunday night’s wrong-way incident. The driver, whose identity has not been released, was arrested at the scene.
Several motorists called 9-1-1 to report the wrong-way driver and police spotted the vehicle as it was traveling without headlights on in the middle of the southbound lanes. Southbound drivers swerved to the emergency lane to avoid a collision before the wrong-way driver was stopped, police said.
Video from a traffic camera provided by the Ohio Department of Transportation shows where a southbound vehicle flashed brights to alert the at-fault northbound driver, who slowed down and proceeded to the emergency lane to the right.
Matthew Lovell, of Beavercreek, was among the southbound drivers who saw the wrong-way vehicle before it was stopped.
“Everyone was kind of like slamming on their brakes and there was a car that was facing the wrong direction coming toward me in the left hand lane there,” Lovell said. “Very lucky that he didn’t hit anyone … that’s really a blessing because that could have ended very, very poorly.”
ODOT officials said a review of camera footage indicates the wrong-way vehicle was in the area of the Dayton-Yellow Springs Road from 10:01 to 10:05 p.m.
Sunday night’s wrong-way incident, in which a driver is stopped or exits the highway before a crash, is the 23rd in Ohio this year, according to ODOT. Two crashes over the holiday weekend, one in Toledo and one in Youngstown, were the 16th and 17th in the state so far in 2019, according to ODOT.
ODOT tracks wrong-way incidents and crashes and looks specifically at where the at-fault driver entered the highway to determine if “counter measures” are needed, said ODOT spokesman Matt Bruning.
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“The majority of these wrong way crashes or incidents are caused by drivers getting on an exit ramp,” Bruning said. “That’s why the bulk of our efforts have been focused on extra signage and striping on the ramp roadway to alert drivers they’re going the wrong way.”
Wrong-way crashes make up a small fraction of all traffic collisions, but because they often involve an intoxicated driver, ODOT has added wrong-way signs that are lower to the ground.
“This is because research shows impaired drivers tend to look down and not up,” Bruning said.
ODOT records show from 2014 to 2018, there were 575 wrong-way crashes across the state, according to ODOT statistics.
Franklin and Cuyahoga counties had the most, with 80 and 71 respectively. Among local counties, the most were 37 in Montgomery; 14 in Butler; 13 in Clark; and 10 in Greene County, according to ODOT records.