November 21, 2014

Elyria
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Cold a factor in 3 deaths across Ohio

COLUMBUS — Snowfall blanketed most of Ohio on Sunday, capping a bitterly cold weekend that contributed to at least three deaths across the state.

Temperatures remained below freezing and colder than usual and snow showers coated most of the state Sunday. In northern Ohio, the Seneca County sheriff issued a Level 2 snow emergency and urged residents to stay indoors.

In Lorain County, ice from Lake Erie clogged pipes Saturday, causing water shortages and reduced pressure in several communities and most of Medina County, including customers of the Rural Lorain County Water Authority.

That problem has been cleared up and water pressure was back to normal on Sunday.

Two people died over the weekend after their car ran off the road and flipped into an icy creek in a rural part of Athens County in southeast Ohio, said Highway Patrol Sgt. Jeff Holbert. The car was spotted early Saturday almost fully submerged, with one wheel sticking out of the water.

Authorities found the driver,

23-year-old Justin Hodgson of Glouster, lying face down in the snow about 500 feet from the crash. Hodgson, who had crawled out of the vehicle, died of hypothermia, Holbert said.

“It appears he was trying to walk back into town,” Hodgson said.

Temperatures in Northeast Ohio plunged below zero on Friday night.

Authorities discovered the body of Melody Hooper, 21, also of Glouster, inside the vehicle. Hooper died of drowning, Hodgson said.

Police used a chain to pull the vehicle out of the water and had to pry open the doors, which were frozen shut, Hodgson said.

Authorities believe the crash occurred sometime after Hooper was last seen around 9 p.m. on Friday.

The bodies did not appear to have sustained serious injuries in the crash, and the vehicle only bore minor scrapes, Hodgson said. Autopsies are being conducted on the bodies.

“The car was so submerged, it could have been a while before anybody noticed it,” Hodgson said.

Snow had been cleared from the road on Friday, and it is unlikely that slick pavement caused the crash, Hodgson said.

In northeast Ohio, authorities said an 8-year-old boy drowned Friday after he fell into a partially frozen creek and got stuck under the ice. Temperatures had reached several degrees below zero in the town of Mentor.

In western Ohio, a section of eastbound Interstate 70 was closed early Sunday morning after a tractor trailer jackknifed near Butler Township, the State Highway Patrol said. No injuries were reported.

Slick conditions contributed to several weekend crashes along Interstate 75, including a five-vehicle pileup Saturday near Toledo. No major injuries were reported.

Ohio’s chilly weather and scattered snowfall will continue through Tuesday as a cold front drives the mercury lower, National Weather Service meteorologists said Sunday.

The high in Columbus was 26 degrees, 10 degrees below the average temperature at this time of year.

Total snow accumulation across northern Ohio was expected to range from an inch or two in western Ohio to up to six inches further east as temperatures stayed near 20 degrees Sunday, said Kirk Lombardy, a meteorologist with the Weather Service in Cleveland.