Daughter says wrong-way driver had health problems

ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS AP Legal Affairs Writer Published:

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- The wrong-way driver in a deadly crash that killed three sorority sisters on Interstate 75 in Ohio had medical issues and was not a drinker, her daughter told authorities in state patrol records released Friday.

Charmaine Lein did not offer details about her mother's health problems, but a witness to the crash said the wrong-way driver was going at least 75 mph and never swerved to miss cars, the records said.

"I was going 75 mph and she was pulling away from me," Volker Kock, a Canadian military medic who kept up with the driver on the other side of the interstate for several miles before the crash, told investigators in a statement.

The State Highway Patrol said Winifred Lein, 69, was driving south in the northbound lanes of Interstate 75 when she crashed head-on into a car of Bowling Green State University sorority members on their way to a spring break trip. The crash killed Lein and three of the students and seriously wounded two others.

A second car of Bowling Green students caravanning with their sorority sisters and driving two to three car lengths ahead swerved in time to miss Lein, according to the records released Friday.

Kock, of Borden, Ontario, told investigators that as Lein drove, several trucks flashed their lights at her. He declined to comment Friday, referring questions to a military spokeswoman who said she would pass questions along to Kock by email.

Video of the crash released this week shows Kock arriving at the crash scene shortly after a state trooper and working with them to put out a fire in the students' car and try to free the survivors.

Lein had left work less than 30 minutes before police received the first 911 call about the car, the patrol said.

The patrol's Bowling Green post also said it's still investigating where Lein got on Interstate 75 and how fast she was going.

The post said Lein, of Perrysburg, checked into her job at Toledo's Jeep plant at 5:52 p.m. on March 1 and left the plant at 1:47 a.m. the following day.

The Jeep highway exit is at mile marker 205, or 19 miles from the mile marker where a trooper spotted the car just seconds before the crash. That leaves just 10 minutes of Lein's time unaccounted for, said Lt. D.W. Laubacher of the Bowling Green post.

The patrol says no businesses around I-75 said they saw Lein before the crash.

"The question is, what happened between the time she pulled out and the time the crash happened," Laubacher said.

A security guard who checked Lein out of the Jeep plant told the patrol she seemed fine as she left.

The first 911 call about a wrong-way driver came at 2:14 a.m., two minutes before a trooper spied the car on the highway, which was just seconds before the crash.

Video of the dashboard camera in trooper P.R. Mohre's car shows the officer switching lanes to avoid the on-coming car, then turning around to chase Lein's car.

The patrol continues to investigate where Lein got on the highway.

Lein's car struck a car carrying five Alpha Xi Delta members as they caravanned with other sorority sisters in separate cars to the Detroit airport for a trip to a Dominican Republic resort.

Students killed in the crash were Sarah Hammond, 21, of Yellow Springs; Rebekah Blakkolb, 20, of Aurora; and Christina Goyett, 19, of Bay City, Mich.

Two other students were seriously injured.