ODOT says noise barrier is not designed for impact like fatal accident

A young woman was killed and two others were seriously injured on Wednesday when a noise-reduction wall panel fell on top of a car in a single-vehicle traffic accident on Interstate 71 north near the highway 161, Columbus police reported on Friday.

Police say Kayleeana Pannell, 18, of South Linden, was driving a 2007 Ford Taurus northbound on I-71 when she exited the right side of the freeway at around 1:10 a.m. Wednesday, crossed a ditch grassy and crashed into a noise barrier. .

The impact apparently caused the collapse of a noise barrier panel on the 2007 Ford Taurus, police said.

Pannell managed to escape from the car, but two female passengers sitting on the right side were trapped inside and had to be mechanically extracted by Columbus’ heavy rescue personnel.

A passenger, Alexis McCoy, 18, from the Far West Side, was pronounced dead at the scene at 2:36 a.m. Wednesday.

Nevaeh Montgomery, 18, of the Northwest Side, was extracted from the vehicle and taken in critical condition to the OhioHealth Grant Medical Center.

Pannell was transported in serious condition to the OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital.

ODOT spokeswoman Brooke Ebersole said on Friday the noise panels are made of concrete or fiberglass, depending on the location, and she was unsure of the material involved in the panel that is collapsed on the car.

However, Ebersole said the barriers are meant to keep freeway noise from homes and businesses on the other side and are not designed to withstand impacts from vehicles. There is a gap of 30 feet or more between the pavement and the barrier panels to avoid an impact like the one that occurred in this accident, she said, and where the barriers are located closer to the guards. – pavement bodies are installed.

The accident investigation is continuing, police said.

McCoy’s death is the 53rd traffic-related death in Columbus this year.

The crash comes just after the July 4 holiday weekend in Ohio, in which 16 people were killed in 15 fatal traffic crashes statewide between Friday and Monday. This is a substantial drop from July 2-5, 2020, when 25 people were killed in 24 fatal crashes.

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