Sunday, October 11, 2009



New Russia Township – A two car head on collision Saturday night left one woman in critical condition and another man in stable condition.

Trooper Lance Deshuk of the Ohio State Highway Patrol said that a 1993 GMC Sierra, driven by 39-year-old Loretta Gregory of Oberlin, was traveling west on US Route 20 – while 53-year-old Michael Birdiak of North Olmstead was traveling east on Route 20 in his 1999 Ford E150 Van. “According to witness statements, the van was attempting to pass another vehicle while traveling east and struck the 1993 Sierra. Both vehicles went off the north side of the highway. It was at this time that the Sierra caught fire. When I arrived the truck was unoccupied and fully engulfed in flames. I attempted to extinguish it with my extinguisher but there was just too much fire. The Fire Department arrived shortly after and extinguished the fire.”
Before Deshuk arrived on scene several witnesses and bystanders rushed to the cars to see if they could help the victims. John McAnallen was on his way home to Wakeman from an off duty Police job in Cleveland and spotted the crash. “At first I just saw the lights blinking and wasn’t sure what it was because of how dark it is here on the highway. Then as I got up closer I could see that at truck was in the ditch and the front of it was on fire.”

McAnallen got out of his car to see if he could help, he said as soon as he stepped out of the car people were telling him that a woman was pinned inside of the burning truck. “I’m not sure of the mans name, but I worked with another man to try and get her out. We saw that the passenger side door was open but we couldn’t get to her that way so we went back to the driver’s side door but it was crushed and we couldn’t get it open. I remember she just kept saying “get me out of here; get me out of here” so with the flames getting bigger every second we just pulled her out through the drivers side window.”

The other man was Manolo Florian of Oberlin.

The two men pulled Gregory out of the truck and carried her to a safe area away from the truck.

Deshuk said that Birdiak was trapped inside of his van with the dash up on his knees.

Paramedics treated Gregory while Birdiak was being extricated from his van. Due to a long extrication time a helicopter landed on Route 20, just east of the scene. Gregory was transported by Central Lorain County Ambulance District Paramedics to Allen Community and then flown to MetroHealth Medical Center a short time later by Toledo Life Flight in critical condition according to a hospital official.

Birdiak was flown from the scene with fractures but in stable condition to MetroHealth by a Metro LifeFlight chopper.

Deshuk said that the crash is still under investigation and charges are pending. Deshuk added that the two men who pulled Gregory from her truck saved her life. “Absolutely they saved her life – I arrived just moments after they had pulled her out and the driver’s compartment was totally involved in fire. So yes, they saved a life tonight.”



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