DEFIANCE – The Ohio State Highway Patrol is investigating a fatal crash that occurred today at approximately 2:35 p.m. on westbound U.S. Route 24 between Jewell and Independence Roads in Richland Township, Defiance County.
At the time of the crash, Sergeant Fernando Chavez, 46, of the Defiance Post had a vehicle stopped on the shoulder for a traffic violation when a pick-up truck drove off the right side of the road and struck Sergeant Chavez’ patrol car and the vehicle he had stopped.
Troopers determined Justin R. Johnson, 28, of Defiance, was driving a 1998 Chevrolet S-10 pickup truck when it ran off the right side of the roadway and struck Sergeant Chavez’ patrol car, a 2019 Dodge Charger.
The pickup and the patrol car then struck a 2009 Nissan Maxima that Sergeant Chavez had stopped on the shoulder. Sergeant Chavez had stopped the Nissan, driven by Caleb A. Wolfe, 19, of Delphi, Indiana, for a speeding violation and was in the driver’s seat of his patrol car completing a citation when the crash occurred.
Johnson sustained life-threating injuries and was taken by air ambulance to Promedica Toledo Hospital while his passenger, Steven R. Johnson, 52, of Bryan, succumbed to fatal injuries at the scene.
Sergeant Chavez sustained non-life-threatening injuries and was transported by ground ambulance to Promedica Defiance Regional Hospital. Wolfe and his passenger, Christian L. Jarrell, 17, of Lafayette, Indiana, were also transported by ground ambulance to Promedica Defiance Regional Hospital with possible injuries.
The westbound lanes of U.S. Route 24 were closed for approximately one hour following the crash. It was reopened and reduced to one lane until the scene was cleared approximately three hours later.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol was assisted at the scene by the Defiance County Sheriff’s Office, Richland Township Fire Department, Defiance Fire and Rescue Department, Ohio Department of Transportation and John’s Towing & Repair Service.
The Patrol reminds motorists to move over or slow down for vehicles on the side of the roadway with flashing lights and to always buckle up.
INFORMATION PROVIDED BY STATE HIGHWAY PATROL