Driver killed in I-71 crash, puppy survives

UPDATE@7:13 p.m.:

A truck driver hauling more than 40,000 pounds of steel and a puppy in his cab was killed early Wednesday morning when his semi trailer plowed into another truck on Interstate 71.

Robert Major, 36, of Augusta, Ky., was pronounced dead at the scene, however, the dog survived. Milan Ilic,60, the driver of the truck Major’s vehicle reportedly struck, was not injured.

Major was traveling north on I71 in Jamestown about 4:30 a.m. when his vehicle slammed into the back of Ilic’s truck. Iilic was preparing to pull to the side of the road to check on a flat tire at the time of the crash, said Lt. Stan Jordan of the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

The 40,000 pound coil of steel Major was hauling reportedly slid forward and crush the cab of the truck, killing him.

“He apparently didn’t notice (the truck pulling off the road and) ran into the back of him at full speed,” Jordan said.

Rescue crews found Major’s brown and white puppy, whose name is Peterbilt, in the wreckage unharmed. Major employer, Dillender Trucking of Sherpherdsville, Ky, plans to return the dog to his family.

“It’s one of the worst (accidents) I’ve seen,” eyewitness Robert Vanhoose. “It’s kind of hard to explain. It makes you reflect on your life.”

The the northbound lanes of the highway were shut down for more than five hours while crews cleaned up. It reopened after 9 a.m.

It’s unknown if drugs or alcohol were a factor in the the crash, officials said, adding that both drivers were wearing the seat belts. The crash remains under investigation.

First take:

Troopers have an initial cause for a fatal crash on Interstate 71 that had the northbound lanes closed for hours.

One semi rear-ended another around 4:30 a.m. near Ohio 72.

Troopers say it appears the first semi driver thought he had a flat tire, put on his flashes and went to pull over.

The second driver following a short distance behind did not stop and ran into the back of the first truck, according to Lt. Stan Jordan.

Jordan said a steel coil slid forward into the cab. Initial reports indicated that coil weighs up to 40,000 pounds.

The driver was pronounced dead at the scene. Troopers identified him as Robert Major, 36, of Augusta, Ky.

A dog riding in the passenger seat survived and was treated at a local veterinarian’s office. It will be reunited with the Major’s family.

The driver whose semi was hit was not hurt, Jordan said. He was identified as Milan Ilic, 60, of Baltimore.

Troopers say they are still investigating the crash.

Both drivers were wearing their seat belts.