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Ohio truck driver dies in crash; actions perhaps saved others

According to an official with the Akron Police Department, the driver who died earlier this month in a truck accident after his vehicle hit a tree, flipped over and ended up submerged in the Cuyahoga River might have been a hero during the last moments of his life.

The driver, a 41-year-old man from Ravenna, was driving a dump truck carrying an estimated 15 tons of sand and dirt when the vehicle suddenly lost the ability to brake around noon on July 5. A post-accident inspection of the truck carried out by investigators from the Ohio State Highway Patrol revealed that the vehicle was operating at only about 50 percent of its brake capacity.

With the heavy load involved, that diminished loss of braking control turned the truck into a potentially deadly missile, with a safety official noting that the driver had “no chance to stop” or ultimately avert a truck crash.

What he did, instead, and in lieu of bailing out, was to stay in the vehicle, repeatedly honking the horn and waving his arms to warn other motorists and pedestrians as he was speeding down a hill toward the river.

Those actions possibly saved lives, as the driver managed to steer clear of other traffic and bystanders. Just prior to entering the river, the truck crossed through a business parking lot at an estimated speed of about 50 miles per hour.

Highway Patrol officials completely ruled out operator error as a contributing cause in the accident, stating instead that the mechanical brake issues were the direct and sole cause of the crash.

Source: Cleveland News, Fox 8, “Report says dump truck’s brakes caused fatal accident,” Dan Jovic, July 11, 2012