Manhole inspections finished after girl seriously hurt in crash; work to fix issue starts next week

DAYTON — An Ohio Department of Transportation contractor has completed its inspections of manholes on U.S. 35 near Smithville Road after a girl was seriously hurt in a crash on Christmas Eve morning.

“ODOT was first notified of any issue on U.S. 35 after the crash had occurred. Since ODOT is administering a construction project at this location, we are working with the City of Dayton to determine what led to this incident,” said Matt Bruning, press secretary at ODOT. “Work will begin next week to permanently enclose any that are in the travel lane.”

>>PREVIOUS REPORT: ‘Worst Christmas ever,’ 10-year-old seriously hurt after manhole cover on U.S. 35 hits family van

The City of Dayton Water Department and ODOT both responded to the area Tuesday and closed the left lane of the highway while an investigation was completed. The lane will remain closed until ODOT permanently encloses the manhole, Bruning said.

The lane was closed just hours after a News Center 7 report about the manhole cover causing a Christmas Eve crash on U.S. 35 that seriously injured a 10-year-old girl and after a city worker requested police to respond to the area.

“We just got report from one of our supervisors on Route 35 west of Smithville...a couple days ago there was a manhole lid that caused a traffic accident,” a City of Dayton Water Department dispatcher told the Montgomery County Regional Dispatch Center around 8 a.m. Tuesday. “That manhole lid is missing again. Could we get an officer out there to block that area until we can get a crew out there, so that it does not cause another accident?”

The manhole cover was the subject of multiple 911 calls Christmas Eve and resulted in serious injuries to a Brookville girl in the backseat of her grandmother’s minivan.

>> Continued manhole issues in U.S. 35 lane keeps portion of highway blocked

Issues with the cover were first reported Christmas Eve around 8:20 a.m. when a truck driver spotted the cover was not over the manhole. Just hours later around 10:45 a.m. 10-year-old Alonna Thomas was hurt when the van drove over the manhole, sending the sewer lid through the floorboard of the van.

Thomas suffered two broken legs in the crash and in the days since the Christmas Eve crash also developed appendicitis and required surgery Monday night, Thomas’ mother Amanda Helfinstine said.

A second woman reported Wednesday to police that she too thinks she hit the manhole and had damage happen to her vehicle.

>> 2nd woman reports hitting manhole on U.S. 35 prior to Christmas Eve crash injuring girl

A City of Dayton spokesman told News Center 7 the city is working with ODOT on the investigation into what happened.

ODOT completed this year’s paving in October for the widening project currently ongoing on the stretch of highway. The entire project is scheduled to be completed this Summer.