Four killed in I-79 accident

  • By Bob Niedbala, Tara Kinsell and Aaron Kendeall
    Staff writers October 3, 2012
Emergency workers respond to the scene of a fatal wreck near the Ruff Creek exit of Interstate 79 Wednesday. - Bob Niedbala O-R

Three Greene County teenagers were killed Tuesday afternoon in a multivehicle accident on Interstate 79 near the Ruff Creek exit. A fourth person, a motorcyclist from Canada, also was killed, and four others – including three other area teens – were injured.

The crash occurred when a sport utility vehicle driven by Cullin Frazer, 18, of Waynesburg, crossed the median and collided with a truck and then a motorcycle. State police said Frazier was killed as was Benjamin Hardy, 18, of Waynesburg, and Bryon Kerr, 18, of Carmichaels. Three other passengers in the SUV – Justin Gillogly, 16, of Waynesburg, Thomas Miller, 16, of Waynesburg, and Justin Lilley, 18, of Waynesburg – sustained minor injuries, police said.

A motorcyclist, Michael Cohen, of Oshawa, Ontario, also was pronounced dead at the scene. Cohen’s passenger, Sandra Cohen, also of Oshawa, suffered moderate injuries.

“Physical evidence at the scene and statements from witnesses suggest that an SUV with six occupants had been traveling in a northerly direction and abruptly, and for an undetermined reason, crossed over the grass median of I-79,” said state Trooper Barton Lemansky.

After crossing the median, the SUV descended a steep embankment into the southbound lane where it first struck a truck hauling hitch-camper before striking a motorcycle, Lemansky said.

He added on that particular section of I-79, the northbound lane is elevated from the southbound lane with a small mound separating the two. The SUV may?have become airborne before impact.

“The circumstances that led to the accident are still under investigation,” Lemansky said.

The four survivors were taken by helicopter to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, W.Va.

The crash closed the southbound lanes for hours.

The crash happened about three miles north of the Ruff Creek exit at 4:34 p.m.

The vehicle towing the camper and the trailer itself suffered minor damage and the driver appeared to be uninjured.


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