Gazette Staff Writer
CHILLICOTHE — The Ohio Highway Patrol is investigating whether a dispatcher failed to take action after receiving a call about a reckless driver before a crash involving the driver that killed a local attorney.
Chillicothe Police Officer Brandon Matherwas dispatching when he called the patrol’s dispatch regarding an off-duty officer reporting a “black Blazer” driving at a high rate of speed heading out of Chillicothe west on U.S. 50, according to audio released by the patrol in response to a request for information by the Gazette.
Mather told the dispatcher that the Blazer did not have headlights on and had gone through as many as three red lights, according to the recording. The dispatcher seemed unsure whether she would be able to send someone to the area in which the driver was traveling, stating her closest unit was “clear at the 10.”
“Ok, I just wanted to make you guys aware of it. But there’s no way we can catch up to it,” Mather said on the call.
What the dispatcher meant in the initial response is expected to be part of an internal investigation, according to Public Information Officer Lt. Anne Ralston.
Shortly after — the time Mather’s call came into dispatch was not immediately released by the patrol and was not part of the audio — the patrol received a call from the Ross County Sheriff’s Office reporting that there was a two-vehicle injury crash on U.S. 50 and one of the vehicles had exploded. The crash happened about 3 miles from the intersection of Stone Ridge Drive where the next to last traffic light is located leaving Chillicothe, and troopers were dispatched at 9:21 p.m.
The first to arrive were two Chillicothe post patrol sergeants, one of which was the unit the dispatcher had said was “clear at the 10.” Both arrived on the crash scene within a minute of being dispatched, according to the crash report.
Annie Rooney, 36, died from injuries sustained in the head-on collision while the other driver, Shira Seymour, 36, remains hospitalized.
Charges are pending against Seymour, who reports state had a 0.190 blood alcohol content level at the time of the crash. According to the patrol’s report, Seymour was driving west on U.S. 50 in a 1999 blue Chevrolet Tahoe. An estimated speed is not listed on the report.
Ralston confirmed that the patrol is investigating the call from Mather and the dispatcher’s response after hanging up.
“There is a pending investigation into the facts and circumstances surrounding an incident in which (a dispatcher) took a call for service and failed to dispatch a trooper or forward that call to another agency,” Ralston said via email. “It is also alleged that the employee also violated policy and did not properly log the service call.”
The dispatcher remains on duty as the investigation moves forward.