No charges in dump truck accident that maimed Ohio State student
Published: Sunday, January 6, 2013
Updated: Monday, January 7, 2013 00:01
Ohio State Police concluded that no criminal charges will be filed in a four-month-long investigation surrounding a dump truck accident that cost one student his right leg.
The Sept. 5 accident took place when first-year student from South Point, Ohio, James Daniel Hughes was riding his bike to class at about 2:45 p.m. near Woodruff Avenue, close to where a dump truck was operating near the entrance of a construction site.
According to several witness reports, Hughes was riding his bike quickly by the site when he was hit by a dump truck attempting to reverse out of the area.
Several witness statements described a loud popping noise that drew their attention to the truck, and then to a crumpled bicycle beneath it. It appeared that the driver hadn’t realized what happened and began moving again. Several people reported that they yelled “Stop!” to get the driver’s attention.
Multiple onlookers reported the incident to emergency services.
An officer dispatched to the scene at about 2:47 p.m. wrote in his narrative that as he approached the truck he “looked under and could see a male body laying on the ground. His torso was exposed and there was a very large wound in his hip region. His body was laying in a contorted position.”
According to the report Hughes was immediately transported to the Wexner Medical Center for care, and since his accident, his lawyer Steve Crandall said he has lost roughly one-third of his body, including his right leg and hip. He’s also dealt with a bone infection.
The investigation revealed that University Police has not charged anyone involved in the incident, and the investigation is completed.
The report, hundreds of pages long, was released almost four months after the incident and includes witness testimonies, officer narratives, information on the vehicles involved and emails from university officials on the incident.
University Police collected statements from at least 14 witnesses and more than 10 officers who played a role in the investigation.
University Police had requested a copy of Hughes’ AT&T cell phone record, which revealed that he had not been using his phone when the accident occurred.
Crandall, who has been fielding media inquiries for the family, had previously expressed frustration with what he considered a delay in the report’s release. However, University Police Chief Paul Denton said the length of time was typical for this kind of investigation.
“There was no delay … this is a comprehensive approach to gathering details and facts, and it does take time. You want to make sure all witnesses are interviewed and all relevant facts and evidence are gathered,” Denton said.
He said it’s crucial to give witnesses time to come forward.
“You don’t want to make a premature conclusion without ensuring that you have all the facts and evidence,” Denton said.
According to a written officer narrative, Crandall said on Oct. 2 that he had talked to Hughes, and stated that he “was not riding his bicycle on the sidewalk but was pushing it because there was so much pedestrian traffic.”
Crandall did not return The Lantern’s requests for comment over the weekend.
In a previous interview with The Lantern, Crandall said he was willing to take action against the university for not making information about the investigation available earlier.
One officer wrote in his narrative that “David Hughes (James Daniel Hughes’ father) brought up concerns about the lack of safety measures in place at the entrance to the construction site. Kelley Hughes (James Daniel Hughes’ mother) stated she was very concerned about the lack of education to incoming students concerning bicycle and pedestrian laws and safety awareness.”
The Sept. 5 accident was preceded by a Aug. 20 incident where first-year student Rachel Stump was hit by a drunk driver, which left her in a coma for several days. The day after James Daniel Hughes’ accident, OSU student Yifan Gu was struck by a bicyclist near Chumley’s on High Street and was transported to the Medical Center with injuries.
As a result of a string of pedestrian and bicycle accidents involving injuries OSU President E. Gordon Gee formed a safety task force to come up with ways to make campus safer, including adding signs to crosswalks and banning the use of bicycles on the Oval.
With the investigation concluded, Denton said his thoughts are with the Hughes’ family.
“They are what’s most important to me at this point, and to our university and our agency,” he said.
Lindsey Barrett contributed to this article.