Gearhead News

February 1, 2021
Driver Crashes Into Culvert, Barrel Rolls, Clears 7-Foot Road Sign, Turns Ram Into Mangled Mess

It’s a rare thing to see a basically brand-new Ram 3500 truck pulverized into a heap of scrap, but that’s precisely what Ohio resident Steve Dempsey witnessed following an alleged drunk-driving crash earlier this month near Canaan Township. Miraculously, no one was seriously injured, but a Facebook post about the harrowing crash has since gone viral. 

Dempsey was headed to his office on January 20 when he saw a truck barreling toward him at an alarming speed. The Ram 3500 passed a car on the straightaway on Ohio State Route 95 when he encountered a curve he was unprepared to take at that velocity. Dempsey slowed to a stop, knowing something bad was about to happen from his experience as a former first responder, and he was riveted to the spot. 

Steve Dempsey

The truck hit a ditch and then a culvert at the intersection of 95 and Sexton-Thatcher Road so hard and so fast that the Ram was launched into the air, cleared a road sign, and flipped end over end into yet another ditch.

The 3500 still had paper tags on it, Dempsey told me on the phone, and it had apparently been purchased brand-new just three weeks before. Incredibly, the driver and passenger of the truck were not seriously hurt, and Dempsey said in his Facebook post “those boys looked like the ending of Rocky IV.” 

Dempsey told me it was like watching it unfold in slow motion, the truck bouncing near him and throwing copious amounts of mud that covered the windshield of Dempsey’s 2018 Lincoln MKC.

“As soon as my windows went black with mud, I couldn’t see anything,” he said. “I didn’t know how close he was to me.”

According to photos taken at the scene and a police report obtained by The Drive, damage to the Ram was severe. The entire back axle was detached, along with the front grille, front bumper, headlights, and a score of other items. 

The Ram’s driver, identified in a police report as Austen James McElroy, initially refused medical treatment but the first responder observed bruising on his stomach, right ankle, back, and reported rib pain. Later on, both he and his passenger were transported to Marion Hospital but on the way, McElroy refused treatment again from Morrow County EMS. The ambulance stopped on the right side of the roadway and McElroy took off on foot, later picked up by another driver, the police report said. It’s unclear when he was actually arrested. 

Steve Dempsey

The Lincoln didn’t fare as well: the hood is damaged as well as the fender, and debris poked a sizable hole in the front driver’s-side tire. Considering the impairment of the driver, he’s pretty lucky. 

The police report said McElroy was apparently slurring his words and had “bloodshot, glassy eyes,” and open containers and scattered beer cans were found at the scene. “The driver also urinated on [Dempsey’s vehicle],” the police report says. McElroy was charged with failure to control and operating a motor vehicle under the influence.

That no one was seriously hurt in this crash is a testament to the safety of modern cars. But there’s still no accounting for stupidity behind the wheel

   

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