Two killed in weather-related crashes in Athens County

ATHENS, OH (WCMH) — It was a deadly morning for drivers in Athens County as two people were killed in separate crashes that authorities said are weather-related.

A truck driver lost his life around 5 a.m. this morning after his 18-wheeler hit a slick spot in Athens County on US 33 near Richland Ave. and plunged off the bridge.

Jeffery Byrd, 56, of Twin City, Georgia was the driver of the 18-wheeler that hit a guardrail and slid over the bridge barrier, according to the Athens Post of the Ohio Highway Patrol.

The other fatal accident was a one-vehicle crash on Elmrock Road just off 33 near Nelsonville.

A blue 1997 Toyota Corolla sedan was traveling on Elm Rock Road when it drove off the left side of the road, struck an embankment and overturned onto its top, according to the highway patrol.

The sedan was driven by Jeffrey L. Wilson, age 42, of The Plains, Ohio.

Many drivers lost control and ended in the ditch or median along US 33 as snow and ice piled up before noon.

Lenia Saffell was one of them but was not injured in her accident.

“I just slid and I kept sliding, I’m counter-steering, my foot is off the brake, off the gas. I’m just sliding and I hit ice after ice and I slid right into the ditch,”  Saffell said.

The Athens Fire Department called for mutual aid from other departments on the semi accident.

“We had to extricate the driver out of the vehicle, unfortunately, it was a fatality,” said Fire Chief Robert Rymes.

The chief said there was not any identification as to what was inside the tanker, so they initially treated it like a hazardous crash.

“Usually that is what we are looking for, we look for placards to make sure it was diesel, gasoline anything of that nature, we did not find any placards. We were able to get the bill of lading to find out what was in it,” Chief Rymes said.

He said they gained access to the bill of lading and discovered it was high fructose corn syrup. He said some spilled and the Ohio EPA told him it is still an environmental problem and a cleanup crew was called in to remove it.

Hocking and Athens Counties were both under a level two snow emergency when the accidents happened.

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