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Updated: Truck veers off I-75, hits Findlay woman

This tractor-trailer veered off Interstate 75 Thursday night and struck a woman on a riding mower. (Photo by Jason Smith)

This tractor-trailer veered off Interstate 75 Thursday night and struck a woman on a riding mower. (Photo by Jason Smith)

A Findlay woman who was mowing her lawn was seriously injured Thursday night when a tractor-trailer veered off Interstate 75 and crashed into her back yard at 3212 Crosshill Drive.

Nikki L. Puchta, 61, was struck by flying debris after the truck plowed into her garage and a fence about 8:45 p.m., the Findlay post of the State Highway Patrol reported.

She was trapped under debris until she was freed by other motorists who stopped to help, the patrol said.

Puchta was taken to Blanchard Valley Hospital with life-threatening injuries, the patrol said, and was later transferred to Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo for further evaluation.

The truck driver, Phillip A. Ewing, 66, of Bridgeport, was treated at the scene and released, the patrol said.

He was cited for failure to maintain control, the patrol said. Alcohol is not suspected in the crash, the patrol said.

Ewing was driving a 2014 Volvo semi that was carrying 30,000 pounds of goods for Big Lots. The patrol said the truck was northbound on I-75 when it went off the east side of the road, then hit a right of way fence, a utility pole, and a garage on Puchta’s property. The impact knocked the garage off its foundation and destroyed the west and north walls of the building, the patrol said. The truck also hit a large privacy fence, the patrol said.

Debris from the garage and the fence struck Puchta, the owner of the residence who was mowing her yard with a riding mower.

The truck then hit a second utility pole and stopped, the patrol said. The trailer fell on its side while the tractor remained upright.

The tractor lost about 50 gallons of diesel fuel as a result of the crash, the patrol said. Hancock County Emergency Management Agency arrived to ensure the site was properly cleaned, the patrol said.

A firefighter at the scene said a “sock” apparatus was deployed to contain fuel spilled from the truck.

Assisting at the crash scene were the Findlay fire and police departments, Hanco Ambulance, Ohio Department of Transportation, Ed’s Towing, and SWS Environmental Cleaning.

Northbound traffic on I-75 was reduced to a crawl while emergency workers cleared the wreckage. One northbound lane was closed during that work.

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