Pickerington Times-Sun

Township asks for intersection study after fatal crash


Violet Township Engineer Greg Butcher submitted a request to the Fairfield County Engineer's Office for a safety study to be conducted on Pickerington Road at the intersection of Ault Road in the wake of a second fatality attributed to a two-car accident at that location Sept. 29.

Shelba Groce, 74, of Pickerington, died Oct. 15, as a result of injuries sustained from automobile accident, which occurred Sept. 29 at 1:55 p.m.

Reports said Groce was traveling northbound on Pickerington Road in her 2010 Toyota Camry when she attempted to turn left onto Ault Road and was struck by a southbound 2001 Mercury Sable driven by Ricky Caudill, 57, of Lancaster.

One of Caudill's passengers, Wilodean Abele, 78, also of Lancaster, died Oct. 1, also as a result of the accident.

Butcher advised the Board of Trustees at its Oct. 16 meeting he "thought it was appropriate to make a request to the county engineer's office to take a look at the global safety at that location" in the wake of the accident.

"I've seen some near misses there, so I thought it would be prudent, being next to (Pickerington High School North), that we ask that question," Butcher said.

"It's an awkward intersection, when you come off Ault Road," said Township Trustee Gary Weltich.

Butcher said Ault Road, with a speed limit of 45 mph, is a Violet Township road and Pickerington Road, posted at 55 mph, is in Fairfield County's jurisdiction.

He said the nature of the accident warrants a deeper look.

"I think if you have an accident of this magnitude that results in two fatalities, it's appropriate to consider a safety evaluation," Butcher said.

Butcher said a safety study will look at traffic counts, crash data, the geometry of both the road and the intersection as well as sight distance.

Trooper Aaron Cooper of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Lancaster Post, handled the initial investigation of the crash.

He said no further information has come to light "now that the at-fault driver is now deceased."

Cooper said the Highway Patrol Reconstruction Unit is waiting on data retrieval gleaned from computer modules in both vehicles.

"I'm not 100 percent sure if they got information on both of them, we'll wait and see what the reconstruction report says," Cooper said.

"The (unit) is very behind. I can't estimate when their report will be ready."

Cooper said another female passenger of Caudill's "was severely injured" in the accident when she was thrown into the front seat.

"She was in the back seat without a seatbelt," he said.

Cooper said he wouldn't necessarily label the intersection as hazardous, however, there are a few issues there that could present some problems if drivers fail to exercise caution.

"From my experience, we haven't had many crashes there, it's pretty wide open," Cooper said.

"There is a slight dip in the road north of that intersection," he said.

"The intersection is also at a 45-degree angle, so that makes it a little odd from that perspective.

"I'm not sure what the at-fault driver was thinking, maybe the turn came up on her faster than she thought, but that would be speculation," he said.

Cooper said Groce was on her way to a wedding on Ault Road.

"That is the only reason we know she was turning there," Cooper said.

"Witnesses didn't see any turn signal," he said.

Cooper said it was likely neither vehicle was speeding at the time of the accident.

"We know the at-fault driver wasn't going very fast and we have a statement from the southbound driver that he wasn't going an outrageous speed."

Cooper said installation of a stop sign on Pickerington Road "... may be beneficial in reducing speed but I don't know if that is something (the engineer's office) would do."