Sunday, January 11, 2004

Investigators to seek reason for reflector hurting woman

By Anna Michael
The Cincinnati Enquirer

AMELIA - Investigators are working to determine what caused a 4.5-pound road reflector to be ripped from the roadway by a snowplow. The reflector flew through the air and smashed through an Amelia woman's windshield, critically injuring her.

There are 1.2 million reflectors embedded in state routes and interstates across Ohio.They weigh 4.5 pounds and are designed so that snowplows can pass safely over them.

Castings replaced every 10 years or when roads are paved.

Embedded 3 to 4 inches into the ground.

Epoxy is used to help anchor them.

Source: Ohio Department of Transportation

State officials say the site of the Thursday accident will be inspected for clues to the incident.

"Some of things that will be looked at are the road condition and the seal that keeps the reflector in the road," said Ron Mosby, public information officer for the Ohio Department of Transportation's District 8.

Debra Black, 42, was injured when a snowplow dislodged a pavement reflector along Ohio 125 and it went through her windshield, striking her in the head and causing her to crash. She remained in a coma Saturday at University Hospital, Corryville.

Pavement reflectors are used to make highway lanes more visible at night. Although the reflectors are designed to be passed over safely by snowplows, they sometimes can be dislodged, especially during winter months.

"Generally speaking, with freeze-thaw it is possible" for the reflectors to come loose, said Joel Hunt, spokesman for state transportation department.

Since 1999, eight such cases have been reported to ODOT, but none involved injury.

Black's boyfriend, Mark Rhizor, said he went to the crash site Thursday and it appeared there was a problem with the reflectors along the highway.

"I looked in the street to see the pieces and they are missing here and there all up and down the street," Rhizor said.

Although the accident happened on a state highway, Clermont County officials are keeping a close watch on the investigation.

Pat Monger, Clermont County engineer, said the most heavily traveled county roads have the reflectors, but "going out and inspecting every one of them would be very impractical."


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