By MARK TODD
NORTH KINGSVILLE - - A pair of Ohio State Highway Patrol dispatchers was credited for leading police to a 74-year-old Geneva motorist who may have been stranded for hours after he crashed his car in North Kingsville early Tuesday morning.
The motorist, who apparently was disoriented, splintered a utility pole on the north side of Route 20 before his vehicle came to rest in a wooded area just west of Green Road, North Kingsville officers said.
The man, who was not identified, used his cellular telephone to call dispatchers and gave clues that eventually helped pinpoint his location, said Lt. James Sivak, of the OHP's Ashtabula post.
"We received several 911 calls from him, and (police agencies) were actively looking for him," Sivak said.
The driver was not injured but was taken to a local hospital as a precaution, officers said.
Sivak credited OHP dispatchers Sharon Bradley and Christine George, who fielded phone calls from the man during the ordeal.
"They did a fantastic job," he said. "They asked the right questions. They lost his calls a couple times but were able to keep him on the phone. They helped lead police to the man."
The motorist's first call arrived at 5:17 a.m., in which he reported his vehicle had struck a utility pole but he didn't know the location, Sivak said. Dispatchers were able to trace the cellular tower used in the original transmission to Ashtabula County, he said.
Knowing the distress call originated in the area, OHP and other agencies began searching their roads and streets for the man, Sivak said. Additional information provided by the confused driver helped speed up the search, he said.
"At one point, the man said he could hear water," Sivak said. "Later, he was able to work his way up to the road and saw it was a four-lane highway. But we didn't know if it was Route 20, Route 11 or Interstate 90."
Just as the man provided dispatchers an identification number from the utility pole, a North Kingsville police officer found the crash site shortly after 6:30 a.m., officers said.
Authorities did not immediately know how long the motorist had been at the scene before he first made telephone contact with the dispatchers. The driver's intended destination was also unknown, police said.
By MARK TODD