- Associated Press - Saturday, March 29, 2014

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) - Unsafe speed and poor driving were among the causes of a series of pileups during a snowstorm that left three people dead on the Ohio Turnpike earlier this month, investigators said.

A final tally from the dozens of crashes on March 12 shows that 126 vehicles were damaged and 49 people were hurt along the toll road that crosses northern Ohio, the State Highway Patrol said.

The worst of it happened where three people died on a snowy two-mile stretch of the turnpike’s eastbound lanes halfway between Toledo and Cleveland.

Investigators said that 55 vehicles were damaged and 36 people were injured in a series of crashes in that area. Severe blowing snow made it difficult to see, the patrol said.

Drivers were going too fast and following too closely, the patrol said in a statement released Friday.

The patrol said it has finished its investigation and will turn the results over to a northern Ohio prosecutor to determine if charges are warranted.

Driver fault was established in all three fatalities, said Lt. Brett Gockstetter.

He told The (Fremont) News-Messenger that drivers traveling between 30 and 45 mph that day were still going too fast for the road conditions. Troopers responding to the main crash site were driving at 15 mph and still felt unsafe, he said.

“As bad as it was, we are very fortunate,” he said. “There are people who escaped some severe damage.”

Charges could range from basic traffic citations to vehicular manslaughter, Gockstetter said.

Two of the people killed were passengers and the other was a truck driver.

Hannah Matheny, 20, of Parma, died after the stopped car she was riding in was struck from behind by a tractor-trailer. The car had stopped because of a minor collision between two tractor-trailers ahead, authorities said.

Truck driver, 42-year-old Grzegorz Piwowarczyk of Palatine, Ill., was killed after crashing into other cars involved in an accident, pinning trooper Andrew Clouser between two cars.

Clouser is continuing to recover from his injuries.

Janice Robb, 66, of Schererville, Ind., a passenger in a vehicle driven by her husband, 68-year-old Duane Robb, was killed when their car hit a truck in front of it.

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