An 83-year-old Warren County man died and a 19-year-old man was seriously injured Monday in Ohio’s 25th wrong-way fatal crash this year.
Vestle Ridenour of Morrow died in the crash reported about 11:40 p.m. on the Ohio 48 bypass in Lebanon.
Ridenour was driving south in the northbound lanes of the road when his white 2003 Chevrolet S-10 crashed head-on into a 2006 silver Saturn Ion, driven by Seth Meintel, 19, of Lebanon.
Rescue crews rescued Meintel from his car with “mechanical means” and he was taken to Miami Valley Hospital with severe injuries. He was listed in critical condition Tuesday at the hospital in Dayton.
Ridenour was pronounced dead at the scene, apparently due to blunt-force trauma, according to preliminary results from the Warren County Coroner’s Office.
Ridenour’s night-time driving privileges were restricted, according to Lt. Chuck O’Bryon of the Ohio Highway Patrol.
“We’re not sure why he was out that late at night,” O’Bryon said.
The crash occurred about seven minutes after another driver reported a wrong-way driver on the four-lane divided highway that starts at the intersection with U.S. 42, on the northeast side of Lebanon.
Matt Bruning of the Ohio Department of Transportation said the crash was the latest in a rising number of fatals involving drivers on the wrong side of the road.
So far this year, there have been 28-wrong-way crashes resulting in 25 deaths, according to state data.
That is already more fatal crashes than in either of the past two years.
The 25 deaths already recorded is 10 more than in 2018 and more than any year dating back to 2013.
A 21-year-old Xenia woman has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to murder charges stemming from a wrong-way crash that killed three members of a Mason family in March on Interstate 75.
A 53-year-old Centervile man is facing charges of aggravated vehicular homicide and operating a vehicle while intoxicated in Greene County following a wrong-way crash that killed a Wright State University student in June on Interstate 675.
O’Bryon said Monday night’s wrong-way crash was apparently a case of distracted driving, since the roads are marked to alert drivers on the wrong side of the road.
“It’s unfortunate these tragedies continue to occur,” he said.
The crash occurred just south of the highway’s intersection with Main Street in Lebanon.
The highway patrol said alcohol or drugs were apparently not a factor.
Troopers were assisted at the scene by the Warren County Coroner’s Office and Sheriff’s Office and Lebanon police and fire departments.
O’Bryon indicated troopers would continue investigating the crash and hoped to talk to the caller reporting the wrong-way driver.
WHIO-TV Reporter John Bedell contributed to this report.
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