Friday, October 27, 2000

12 inmates, others injured in wreck

By Jane Prendergast
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LONDON, Ohio — A dozen female inmates headed to prison Thursday landed instead in hospitals after their driver missed a stoplight in heavy morning fog and hit a truck.

[photo] Officials investigate an accident at the intersection of Ohio 38 and U.S. 40 near London, Ohio, on Thursday.
(Gerald Weaver photo)
| ZOOM |
        One of the women was in critical condition at Grant Hospital in Columbus, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol. The rest of the inmates were hurt less seriously. Six of them were treated at hospitals, released within hours and driven the rest of the way, while the others remained hospitalized.

        Most of the inmates were headed to the Ohio State Reformatory for Women in Maysville. One was going to the Franklin Pre-Release Center in Columbus, said Steve Barnett, spokesman for Hamilton County Sheriff Simon Leis.

        The women were handcuffed and shackled together inside the van, officials at the scene said.

        The driver, Deputy Timothy Moss, was treated at the scene. Deputy Sarah Heckel cut her head and suffered soreness, but was expected to be released after X-rays, Mr. Barnett said. The driver of the other vehicle, a TruGreen Chemlawn truck hauling 700 gallons of fertilizer, also was treated and released.

        Mr. Barnett said the sheriff's office would not comment on the accident because it was being investigated by another law-enforcement agency.

        The van, headed from Cincinnati to Marysville about 9 a.m. along Ohio 38, was about 25 miles west of Columbus when it failed to yield to a traffic-control device at the intersection with U.S. 40, the highway patrol said. The fertilizer truck rammed the van on the passenger side.

        These women rode in the van: Vernice Robinson, Nancy Deaton, Shannon Grier, Lois Hamilton, Shaunda Lunsford, Tina Mounce, Kenya Price, Deborah Starks, Diana Thornberry, Patti Broussard, Shannon Kramer and Sammie Sutton. The sheriff's department did not detail each of their injuries.

        About 100 gallons of fertilizer spilled as a result of the wreck, but a spokeswoman for the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency said the health risk was minimal. TruGreen spokeswoman Andrea Hughes said the company was helping with cleanup.

        The sheriff's department does many inmate transfer runs like the one Thursday. They are necessary, Mr. Barnett said, whenever a prisoner is brought to Hamilton County for a hearing, for example, or when a prisoner is sentenced here and is to serve the time elsewhere.


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