Enquirer News Update   -   Updated 6:40 p.m.

Driver in I-471 accident dies



By Reid Forgrave
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Despite his dramatic rescue this morning, the bread truck driver who flipped his rig in a traffic-snarling wreck near downtown Cincinnati died of his injuries.

Ronald A. Cobb, 41, of Alexandria, was impaled through his abdomen by a piece of metal when his truck full of thousands of loads of Butternut white bread wobbled and tipped over on the on-ramp from Columbia Parkway east onto Interstate 471.

He was trapped in the cab for about a half hour before being taken by Air Care helicopter to University Hospital, where he died.

The 9:41 a.m. crash closed I-471 traffic in both directions for hours. The ramp from northbound I-71 reopened about 2:30 p.m., but the ramp from southbound I-71 remained closed.

"When he came out and was still conscious, it just blew me away," said District 1 Fire Chief Anson Turley, who added today's accident was the most difficult extraction he's seen in 16 years with the department. "I thought for sure he'd die at the scene."

Cobb told investigators his air brakes went out. Witnesses said the vehicle was driving too fast and began to wobble near the start of the on-ramp. He hit the concrete barrier on the left side of the curved entrance ramp, Cincinnati police said, then flipped.

"It looked like he was sliding on ice," said Jeff Mahavey of New Richmond, who was driving a red Chevrolet Cavalier on the ramp onto 471 off Fort Washington Way when the truck nearly toppled on top of him. "They said he was going so fast he almost flipped over on up the bridge."

When the truck flipped, it became wedged between the two on-ramps. If the truck had flipped earlier on the ramp, the truck could have fallen some 50 feet to a parking lot between the two on-ramps.

Loaves of bread spilled onto the interstate, and the upside-down cab of the truck crumpled like an accordion. Blood flowed down the side of the cement ramp.

Rescue workers had to first stabilize the wobbly tractor trailer, then cut away pieces of the cab to extract the driver. Officials closed traffic on both sides of the bridge during the extraction because the bridge shook and bounced.

Everyone knew their job, and they got out there and did it," Turley said. "It wasn't too panicked out there."

E-mail rforgrave@enquirer.com