A Springfield couple was seriously injured in the massive pileup crash on Interstate 70 this past weekend that killed one person and injured dozens.
Ryan Hester, 29, and his wife Elizabeth Hester, 30, are both at Grant Hospital in Columbus.
He was taking her to Columbus for a surprise Valentine’s Day date, said Kimiko Pettry, a friend of the couple.
They then became ensnarled in the crash that involved more than 20 cars and six semi trucks in white-out weather conditions on I-70, said Sgt. Tim Henn of the Ohio State Highway Patrol Madison Post that responded to the crash.
Ryan Hester had surgery on his back and is recovering at the hospital, Pettry said.
Elizabeth Hester is in the ICU at Grant Hospital. She suffered severe brain injuries and is under a medical paralysis for the time being, Pettry said.
Ryan Hester graduated from Springfield North High School and Elizabeth Hester from Greenon High School.
Elizabeth Hester graduated from Wittenberg University and has worked at Springfield Metropolitan Housing Authority since 2007, said Stephanie Cameron, human resources manager at the agency.
“She’s one of those people who is so bright and makes everyone she’s around so happy,” Cameron said. “She’s a fighter.”
Friends and family of the couple have started an online fundraiser to help the couple pay for medical bills and other expenses from the crash.
“This is going to result in a year of them not working,” Pettry said.
Doctors expect Elizabeth Hester to be in the hospital for at least a month, Pettry said, and Ryan Hester had to have screws and rods inserted in his back in surgery.
The “Support Liz and Ryan Hester” page on gofundme.com has raised more than $2,700 in one day, according to the website.
The cause of the crash remains under investigation, Henn said, but weather and drivers going too fast for the snow-covered roads is likely what led to the pileup.
The Hesters were two of at least eight victims that were sent to the hospital from the crash with serious injuries, Henn said.
Armando Del Real, 45, of Linden, Ind., died in the crash and dozens of others suffered minor injures, he added.