The Ohio State Highway Patrol’s Van Wert Post is investigating a double fatal crash that occurred at approximately 3:58 P.M. on Thursday afternoon, June 21, 2018, on State Route 49, just north of Township Road 214, in Paulding County.
A 1995 Buick Riviera, operated by Zachery S. Burns, age 27, of Antwerp, Ohio, was southbound on State Route 49. Mr. Burns struck the rear of a southbound 2003 Dodge Durango. The impact caused the Durango to slide left of center which was then struck by a northbound 2016 Chevrolet 3500, driven by Kurtis Ellert, age 40, of Hamilton, Indiana. After the initial impact the Burns vehicle slid off of the right side of the roadway then continued back onto the roadway where it crossed the center line and was struck by a northbound 2005 Pontiac G6, driven by Josh Gerken, age 33, of Edon, Ohio.
Both occupants of the Durango were pronounced dead at the scene by Paulding County Coroner, Dr. Joseph M. Kuhn. Neither of the occupants were wearing seatbelts. Burns was transported to Paulding County Hospital and treated for non-life threatening injuries. Gerken was also transported to Paulding County Hospital. A rear passenger of the Ellert vehicle was transported to the Paulding County Hospital and treated for non-life threatening injuries. Ellert and his front seat passenger were transported to Parkview Hospital where they were treated for non-life threatening injuries.
The crash resulted in a closure of State Route 49, between County Road 204, and County Road 220 for several hours. The roadway has since been reopened.
The Van Wert Post was assisted by Paulding County Sheriff’s Office, Antwerp Fire and EMS, Gideon’s Towing, and J & R Towing.
Alcohol is believed to be a factor. The crash remains under investigation.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol encourages drivers and occupants to always where their seat belts, to never drive distracted or impaired, and to reduce speed during inclement weather.