The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

June 26, 2013

Motorist injured by toppled Jefferson tree

Storms cause thousands to lose power

By MARK TODD - mtodd@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

— A motorist was injured when a tree fell on her vehicle when a violent thunderstorm ripped through Ashtabula County late Tuesday afternoon, according to reports.

The storm dumped heavy rain on the region and caused widespread electrical outages that affected thousands of area residents. More than 4,000 Illuminating Company customers were still without power Tuesday evening, according to the FirstEnergy Corporation website. The storm seemed to hit hardest south of Interstate 90, according to reports.

The storm injury occurred on Route 46 a short distance south of Morgan Road in Plymouth Township. A tree on the west side of the road fell on a vehicle, injuring the unidentified driver and closing the highway for more than three hours. Witnesses said the incident occurred around 4:30 p.m.

Ashley Parnaby’s house on Route 46 sits a few steps from where the tree fell. The tree appeared to fall in two sections, she said. The driver appeared to have stopped in traffic when the first chunk fell into the road, then was struck by the second section, she said.

The vehicle was heavily damaged by the tree, requiring township firefighters to free the woman through a back door, Parnaby said. The woman was transported by ambulance but did not seem to be critically injured, Parnaby said.

A large section of the trunk fell on lines, pulling them to the ground. A transformer on the east side of Route 46 was smoking, prompting firefighters to warn bystanders away.

Ohio Department of Transportation crews removed the debris from the road, which was closed to traffic at Morgan to the north and at a location a short distance south of the incident. An ODOT statement indicated the road was scheduled to reopen around 8 p.m.

Fierce winds also sent a big tree into the East Union Road home of Robin Ambrose, near Jefferson. A tree near the house’s porch snapped in half, causing roof damage, she said.

“We were carrying packages into the house when the storm started,” she said. “Then we heard a big crash.”

A small building on adjoining property was topped by the storm, Ambrose said. The pattern damage indicates a microburst may have been to blame, she said.

No one was hurt, Ambrose said. “It could have been much worse,” she said.

Outages hit much of Ashtabula Township, denying power to many businesses along busy Route 20. Many traffic signals were dark, causing traffic to slow to a crawl through intersections.

Thunderstorms remain in the daily forecast through Tuesday, thanks to humid weather expected over the same period, according to the National Weather Service.