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Police and fire

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Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Scene after Thursday's crash.

Trucker can't recall crash that killed 2

He told police officers he didn't remember anything.

Nothing about how his semi sideswiped another on the side of Interstate 69.

Nothing about the crumpling of steel and metal or the collision with the pickup truck also parked along the side of the road.

And certainly nothing about the four people struck by his rig.

When questioned by Allen County Police after a crash Thursday that left one man and his grandson dead, another person severely wounded and another missing at least part of his leg, Randy Lee Withrow's words were apparently brief:

"(Withrow) said he was driving southbound and doesn't remember anything until after the collision occurred," an officer wrote in his report.

Monday, police released new details about the crash that killed 67-year-old Blaine Miller and his 19-year-old grandson, Jeff Shelmadine, two men heavily involved in the area's racing scene.

A snippet of Withrow's driving record also came to light, showing that the 53-year-old was involved in a "road rage" accident along a highway in Ohio earlier this year.

Police identified Withrow, of Coldwater, Mich., as the man behind the wheel of a semi hauling an empty car carrier that was traveling south down the interstate at about 1:15 p.m.

Miller, the founder of Blaine Miller Road Service, was assisting a broken-down semi on the west side of the interstate near the Union Chapel Road exit.

Winthrow's truck struck that semi, four pedestrians there and a pickup truck also along the side of the road, the police report said.

Miller, a championship car owner who sometimes raced at Baer Field Speedway, and Shelmadine, the 2009 front-wheel-drive champion, were two of the pedestrians.

They suffered injuries to their entire bodies, according to the police report.

Another man, identified in the police report as 25-year-old Tyrek T. Murphy, of Oklahoma City, had his "knee/lower leg/foot" severed, the report said.

Yet another person was also injured, but the report only identifies him as "John Doe."

He suffered internal, head and "incapacitating" injuries, the report said. Medics rushed that person to a hospital in critical condition.

Withrow, who could not be reached for this story, complained of back pain, the report said.

It's not Withrow's first crash of this year, though.

In April, he rear-ended a man while traveling south on a highway near Perrysburg, Ohio.

According to Perrysburg Police records, Withrow said the man had cut in front of him and braked, causing him to strike the man's vehicle.

But Withrow and the man both told police they "were actively engaged in a road rage situation between each other" at the time, police records said.

Both men had "hostile communication" between each other on their CB radios before the accident.

Due to their conflicting statements, no fault was found and no citations were issued, according to those police records.

At the scene of Thursday's crash, Allen County Police officers issued Withrow a citation for unsafe lane movement.

But that citation has yet to show up in county court records.

In the past, Allen County prosecutors have held off on filing citations in fatal wrecks for a variety of reasons.

One is to ensure there aren't more serious charges applicable that could be ruled out if a citation is issued due to double jeopardy laws.

Other times, it's a psychological decision – a simple traffic ticket may be looked upon as diminishing or slighting the dead.

jeffwiehe@jg.net

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