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The Suburbanite
  • Springfield crash kills one, hurts two on anniversary of injury to township officer

  • Alcohol is suspected to be a factor in two traffic crashes in Springfield Township March 31 that injured two and resulted in the death of 26 year-old Jeffrey Y. Spencer, of Canal Fulton. The crashes occurred on the one-year anniversary of an alcohol-related crash that paralyzed Springfield Police Officer Mark Dodez.

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  • Alcohol is suspected to be a factor in two traffic crashes in Springfield Township March 31 that injured two and resulted in the death of a 26 year-old Canal Fulton man. The crashes occurred on the one-year anniversary of an alcohol-related crash that paralyzed Springfield Police Officer Mark Dodez.
    While assisting the Ohio Highway Patrol at an accident on State route 241 (Massillon Road) just north of Killian Road,  a township police cruiser was hit by a suspected drunk driver. Springfield Police Sgt. Joseph Gaffney, who had driven the car to the scene, was away from the car when it was struck and was not injured.
    “To have another incident with a suspected impaired driver on the anniversary of Mark’s tragedy is chilling,” said Sgt. Eric East, public information officer for Springfield Police. “It is another wake-up call as to how dangerous it is out there.”
    The incident occurred at 2:32 a.m. one year to the day Dodez was hit while walking back to his cruiser after assisting in a search for drugs on Arlington Road.  The driver who hit Dodez is serving a six year prison sentence and was given a 10-year license suspension.
    “To have a drink is one thing,” East said, “but getting  behind the wheel of your car after having a drink and thinking you are not going to jeopardize your life or someone else is naive. People have to use good judgment and know that after drinking it is not OK to get in your car and drive.”   
    In the recent accident, Jeffrey Y. Spencer, 26, of Canal Fulton, was severely injured. He died from his injuries April 4.
    Police said Spencer was partially ejected from a car driven by Jessica L. Thomas, 25, of Barberton. Thomas was headed south on Massillon Road when she lost control, went left of center then back across the highway on the right side where she struck a traffic sign, a fire hydrant and an embankment, which caused the vehicle to go airborne and strike a tree.
    Lakemore emergency medical crews worked to free both Thomas and Spencer, who were taken to Akron hospitals.  Spencer died at Akron City Hospital as a result of his injury. Thomas remains hospitalized.
    As officers were investigating the first crash, Leroy Lutz, 52,  Akron, struck Gaffney’s cruiser on Massillon Road, which was parked with its emergency lights on in the center of the road.  According to Springfield Police, Lutz hit the cruiser and continued heading north until he was stopped by police.
    According to the Canton Post of the Highway Patrol, Lutz was treated at Akron General Medical Center for minor injuries. He was charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated, pending the results of a blood test and with one misdemeanor failure to provide an assured clear distance.
    Page 2 of 2 - Alcohol is suspected to be a factor in the crash involving Thomas and Spencer, according to the patrol. The investigation continues.
    The accidents remain under investigation by the Canton Post of the Ohio Highway Patrol.