One eastbound lane reopens between Rt. 256 and Brice Road
Tuesday, July 7, 2009 4:03 PM
Updated: Tuesday, July 7, 2009 07:11 PM
By John Futty, Randy Ludlow and Jeb Phillips
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
The scene of the crash
ERIC ALBRECHT | DISPATCH
The scene of the crash
Portions of I-70 on the East Side remain closed after a chase, crash and shooting resulted in the death of a man being pursued by Columbus police.
The man was wanted in Los Angeles, where he is suspected in a series of rapes, said Sgt. Rich Weiner, spokesman for Columbus police.
Weiner wouldn't release the man's name, saying Los Angeles detectives are flying in and must first identify the body. Tonight, it remained in the white Cadillac Fleetwood that crashed head-on into a tanker truck shortly before 4 p.m.
The man was driving the Cadillac on I-70 near Rt. 256, said Battalion Chief Doug Smith, a Columbus Fire Division spokesman. At one point, he crossed over the median and was going the wrong way, causing him to crash into the truck in the westbound lanes.
"He was still moving after the crash and apparently reached for a weapon and was shot by authorities," Smith said.
Weiner said six Columbus police officers fired their weapons at the man, who apparently has ties to the Columbus area. Weiner said it's too early to tell whether the man died from the gunshots or the crash. He was pronounced dead at the crash site shortly after 4 p.m.
The crash occurred 1 mile west of Rt. 256. It initially closed the interstate in both directions between Brice Road and Rt. 256. As of 7 p.m., one eastbound lane had reopened, but Weiner said the westbound lanes could remain closed until late tonight.
Weiner said the man had been under surveillance by Columbus police and the FBI earlier this week after the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department issued a warrant for his arrest. The man was wanted on 19 charges in connection with eight rapes in California, Weiner said.
The man apparently realized he was being followed this afternoon when he tried to flee from authorities, Weiner said.
Scott Poch, 33, of Worthington, is controller for Farber Specialty Vehicles, which sits off the interstate just southwest of the crash site.
He said he was working in his office when he heard the police helicopter hovering overhead. He came outside and saw vehicles on the highway slamming on their brakes. Then he noticed the tanker truck, smoke and flames from the car. He saw about six police officers advancing toward the wreck.
"They all had their guns raised up on him," he said.
Poch said he was unable to tell if the officers were yelling anything or whether shots were fired because of the noise from the helicopter. He said he saw a man whom he assumed was the tanker driver cowering behind a sport-utility vehicle that had stopped nearby.
Weiner said the truck driver, whose name wasn't available, was taken to Grant Medical Center in stable condition.
* See related WBNS-10TV video
Tags: rape suspect, warrent, LA, Columbus, OH I-70
Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States (load item map)
Marked as: approved
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