Driver killed in fiery 5-vehicle crash on I-75 ID’d

A 20-year-old Blanchester woman was killed in a crash Friday after a tractor-trailer struck another semi and two cars on Interstate 75 before crashing through the concrete barrier and damaging a third car in Butler Twp. near Vandalia.

Robyn Birzer was identified Saturday by the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s Dayton Post as the driver of a Ford Escape who was pronounced dead at the scene.

The crash happened around 2:40 p.m. when a Freightliner driven by 59-year-old Lilemon J. Ferguson of Columbus was on the ramp from westbound I-70 to northbound I-75 when he went off the left side of the ramp and into the northbound lanes. The semi struck three vehicles: a Freightliner tractor-trailer driven by Ntunzwenimana M. Mathieu, 38, of Dallas; a Honda Civic driven by 23-year-old Clayton A. Barhorst of Lebanon, and a Ford Escape driven by Birzer, according to the patrol’s preliminary investigation.

After striking the three vehicles, Ferguson’s semi crashed through the concrete barrier to the southbound lanes, damaging a Chevrolet Camaro driven by 71-year-old Terrance L. Toth of Tipp City, the patrol said.

The semi operated by Ferguson and the Escape caught fire.

Ferguson, Mathieu and Barhorst were taken to Miami Valley Hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening, and Toth was not hurt, troopers said.

The southbound lanes of I-75 were closed for about three hours before it opened with lane restrictions.

“The northbound lanes of I-75 reopened at approximately 1:30 a.m. on Dec. 3 and southbound lane restrictions remained in place until approximately 2:20 a.m., when all lanes and ramps were reopened and the scene was cleared,” the patrol said in a Saturday update.

The crash also led to heavy traffic on area roadways, particularly Dixie Drive.

Butler Twp. and Vandalia police departments warned people the “major crash” was expected to close the highway for several hours.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency was notified of the crash and subsequent fire, the patrol confirmed.

According to initial reports, the semi that caught fire was possibly hauling cardboard, and the second semi was carrying auto glass.

Tanker trucks from multiple fire departments were called, with crews responding from Butler Twp., Vandalia, Harrison Twp., Huber Heights and Tipp City.

Troopers at the scene also were assisted by police officers from Butler Twp., Vandalia and Huber Heights, three local towing companies and the Ohio Department of Transportation.

Anyone with information regarding this crash investigation is asked to call the Dayton Post at 937-832-4794.

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

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