Sunny Day Spoiled By Half-Dozen Accidents

Troopers with the Ohio State Highway Patrol responded to a half-dozen accidents in Belmont County on Friday afternoon – a time when clear skies and dry roadways should have made for good driving conditions.

Trooper Scott Moore handled a pair of accidents on Belmont-Morristown Road just south of Interstate 70 beginning around 3:30 p.m. He said the first occurred when 18-year-old Dakota Leasure of Belmont failed to maintain assured clear distance ahead, for which he was cited.

Moore said Leasure’s Chevrolet Cobalt struck the rear of a Pontiac Vibe driven by Casey Utter, 28, of Flushing, forcing it into a 2002 Chevrolet pickup truck driven by Thomas L. Burga, 51, of Barnesville.

Those vehicles had been stopped in traffic. Moore said a Lafferty Volunteer Fire Department ambulance transported Utter and her passenger to Wheeling Hospital for injuries sustained in the crash.

Meanwhile, Stephanie Menges, 45, of Bethesda was waiting in traffic delayed by that crash when her 2010 Ford was struck from behind by a 2006 Chrysler 300 driven by Margaret James of Belmont.

No one was injured in that collision, but James was cited for failing to maintain assured clear distance ahead.

At about the same time, Trooper Brian McFarland responded to a single-vehicle crash on Ohio 149 that closed the roadway for several hours.

McFarland said Christi Kalinowski, 49, of Belmont was driving west in a 1999 Buick Century when she struck a mailbox, continued driving along an embankment then struck a utility pole, shearing it off and causing electric and other utility lines to fall to the roadway.

The driver was pinned in the car, and the Belmont and Bethesda VFDs cut the vehicle to free her.

“She was drunk,” McFarland said of Kalinowski, who was transported by Bethesda’s emergency squad to Ohio Valley Medical Center in Wheeling.

Troopers said they expected Kalinowski would be treated and released. She was charged with failure to control, DUI and no seat belt, McFarland said.

Trooper Ross Thompson handled three additional crashes Friday afternoon.

The most serious was a motorcycle accident that sent Adam Cook, 23, of Barnesville to OVMC in a Barnesville VFD ambulance.

Thompson said Cook was driving a 2007 Suzuki south on Ohio 800 just north of Barnesville when he traveled off the right side of the roadway. Thompson said the motorcycle overturned, ejecting Cook.

Cook was charged with failure to control and no motorcycle endorsement, according to Thompson.

Thompson termed the other two accidents to which he responded “minor,” noting neither resulted in injuries.