State police: Custody dispute led to I-70 crash

November 15, 2013
Mark Rankin

The crash that closed Interstate 70’s eastbound lanes for more than an hour Wednesday night was the result of a road-rage incident following an earlier custody hearing, state police said.

Timmy Rose and his girlfriend, Heather Rankin, were driving home from the Washington County Courthouse shortly before 5 p.m. when Rankin’s ex-husband cut them off on the interstate near the Kammerer exit, police said.

Mark Anthony Rankin pulled ahead of the couple’s car and then slammed on his brakes, police said, causing Rose to lose control of his car before it rolled over twice.

Heather Rankin was ejected from the car and suffered head, face, neck and back injuries. She was flown by medical helicopter to a Pittsburgh hospital, where her condition was still not released Friday. Rose suffered minor head and back injuries and was hospitalized for precautionary reasons.

Witnesses told investigators that Mark Rankin, 40, of White Oak, pulled over onto the highway’s shoulder and looked back at the accident scene before driving away. Rankin never returned while state police troopers investigated the crash, according to court documents.

He was arrested Thursday and charged with aggravated assault, risking a catastrophe, simple assault, harassment, reckless endangerment, criminal mischief and several traffic citations. Rankin was arraigned by District Judge Curtis Thompson and is now free on $10,000 percentage bond.

The crash snarled eastbound traffic, backing up cars nearly to Washington, as emergency responders shut down the eastbound lanes for more than an hour to remove the wreckage and investigate.

A tractor-trailer also was damaged in the crash. No one else was injured in the incident, police said.

Mike Jones has been a news reporter since 2005, covering crime, state and municipal government, education and energy. In addition to working at the Observer-Reporter, he also has spent time at the Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail and He holds a journalism degree from West Virginia University.

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