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Double-fatal caught on camera renews scrutiny for intersection

Couple killed despite safety improvements.


The crash that killed a couple July 22 at Ohio 73 and Township Line Road was caught on camera by a man who wants officials to re-install a flashing yellow traffic signal removed five years ago.

The double-fatal accident was the first deadly crash there since 2009, when a dip in the road that limited sight distance was flattened and the flashing light was replaced with stop signs.

Dallas Keith set up a home surveillance camera system that recorded the accident and that has captured other crashes and near collisions. The videos are recorded on a computer and posted at tl73.org.

“The purpose of this website is not to provide macabre entertainment. It is to document and maintain a record of events and bring some level of awareness to the community about the potential hazards of this location from the perspective of a long-term resident,” Keith said on the website.

Officials said the reconstructed intersection is safer than it was before the improvements.

The three-vehicle crash July 22 ended the lives of Robert and Margaret Large, a long-time Springfield couple heading to their retirement home in Indiana.

No charges have been filed against Jacqueline Montgomery, the 45-year-old teacher from Leesburg in Highland County who is suspected of causing the crash resulting in the death of the Larges.

The video — and witnesses — indicate Montgomery, driving southbound on Township Line, continued through a stop sign into the flat bed of a heavy lumber truck eastbound on 73, causing the truck to cross the center line into the path of the Larges’ westbound minivan. The Larges, both 66, were pronounced dead at the scene.

Montgomery “has no direct memory of the crash or occurrences prior to it,” according the crash report released by the Ohio Highway Patrol.

Keith said the crash supported his campaign to bring back the flashing yellow light.

“I think that would have been more visible,” said Keith.

The intersection is no longer among the top 10 in Clearcreek Twp. in terms of crashes, Clearcreek Twp. Police Chief John Terrill said.

“Now you see that intersection,” Terrill said. “I’m not sure that 20 devices there would have helped. A stop sign’s a stop sign. She didn’t even hesitate.”

In 1996, a flashing yellow light was placed at the intersection, warning approaching motorists of the upcoming hazard. In 2009, the light came down after the county paid a contractor $1 million to flatten a dip, just east of the intersection, and add turn lanes from 73 onto Township Line.

Township Line Road is a popular north-south route between Greene and Montgomery counties and Warren County, with few stop signs. Ohio 73 is the main east-west route across northern Warren County. Cars often travel at speeds of 60 mph or faster on both roads.

After the changes, Keith and others appealed to transportation officials for the caution light. While the county made the improvements, the status of the flashing light is up to ODOT.

“Once the project is complete, there will be over 800 feet of sight distance available,” an ODOT official said in response to one appeal. “Since the sight distance will be corrected with this project, the intersection control beacon will no longer be needed and will be removed.”

From 2005-2008, 13 angle crashes occurred at the intersection as drivers from Township Line failed to yield to 73 traffic, according to ODOT. The ODOT data did not break down the totals, and the Ohio Highway Patrol was only able to provide data since 2009.

Since then, no fatal accidents, but six injury and seven property damage crashes, have occurred at the intersection, according to state records.

“I give ‘em credit. It shocked all of us, the improvement it did make,” Keith said.

Since the Large double fatal, some have called to add rumble strips or a red light at the intersection. Keith still wants ODOT to put back the flashing yellow light.

“I think it would cut down on the messier ones,” he said.

The county has no plans for more improvements. ODOT added signage in 2012 and has no plans to put back the light since the sight problem has been corrected, according to officials.

“When we had the beacon there, we had accidents,” said ODOT spokeswoman Sharon Smigielski said. “A traffic light isn’t necessarily a cure-all. It’s up to the motorist to obey any and all traffic devices on the roadway.”


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