Fairfield home builder killed, 21 injured in 9-vehicle crash on I-75 near Lima

A prominent Fairfield home builder was killed in a multi-vehicle crash over Labor Day weekend that injured 21 others on Interstate 75 near Lima.

The crash happened at about 12:25 p.m. Sunday in the southbound lanes near the state Route 309 exit in Allen County.

A 2019 Freightliner driven by a 75-year-old Vermilion man was approaching slowed traffic from a separate crash when the semi struck several vehicles, causing a chain-reaction crash involving nine vehicles, according to a release from the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s Lima Post.

Joseph B. “Jo Jo” Schwarz, 64, a rear passenger in a 2019 Chevrolet Suburban involved in the crash, succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Ten people were taken to area hospitals and 11 were treated at the scene for their injuries, troopers said.

Fairfield Mayor Mitch Rhodus said he and Schwarz “were like brothers our entire life” after the Schwarz family moved next door when they were both 4. The mayor said he and Schwarz were planning to have lunch on Tuesday, along with a group of fellow Fairfield High School classmates.

“He was well liked and well known by thousands of people, very well respected in the community,” Rhodus said of his friend, whom he also called a strong supporter of the community.

Schwarz along with his father, Joe, owned J-II Homes, which developed and built a large portion of Fairfield’s neighborhoods over the past several decades. The Schwarz family developed the Village Green in the heart of the city and donated the land for the Fairfield Community Arts Center, Fairfield Lane Library and Village Green Park.

ExplorePHOTOS: Fairfield man killed, 21 hurt in 9-vehicle crash

Schwarz was on his way back from a trip to Put-in-Bay with four other friends at the time of the crash. None of the others in the Suburban suffered life-threatening injuries. As of Monday evening, one was recovering from surgery, another had been released from a hospital and the other two were expected to be released soon, Rhodus said.

Funeral arrangements are pending for Schwarz, who is survived by his father and three children.

The crash report has not been filed and the crash remains under investigation, the patrol stated.

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