All-terrain vehicle, motorbike only casualties in accident on I-76

Aman Ali

Yesterday afternoon a pick-up truck carrying four family members in route to a motorcross competition at Ashley Fairgrounds was cut off by another car. The Sams’ truck ran up the side of a hill and landed on its roof. One family member, Alan Sams, was tak

Credit: John Proppe

Five-year-old A.J. Sams sat huddled in the grass near a shoulder lane on I-76 West, staring at nothing.

About 20 minutes earlier, he was hanging upside down in his grandpa’s pickup truck. A seat belt was the only thread between him and death.

Firefighters, cops and highway patrolmen paced, trying to figure out how this accident happened. The only thing A.J. could say was how bad he had to use the bathroom.

Around 3 p.m. yesterday, a Chevrolet Silverado flipped over near the Tallmadge Road exit on I-76 West – creating a traffic jam for almost two miles. No fatalities were reported.

Youngstown resident Al Sams was driving the truck. His grandson A.J., wife Margie and son Allen were passengers. Brimfield paramedics said Allen was taken to Akron City Hospital for a cut on his head. No one else had significant injuries.

“Thank God we all had our seat belts on,” Margie Sams said.

She said the accident happened after a Pontiac Grand Prix pulled onto the highway from the Tallmadge Road exit and repeatedly hit the passenger side of family’s vehicle and caused it to flip over.

“My husband kept trying to move over,” she said. “All of a sudden I heard a bang. The car flipped over, all I saw was green, and before I know it, we were left hanging in our seat belts.”

The driver of the vehicle was Akron resident Kevin Turner. State Highway Trooper Gary Whitacre said Turner was cited for improper lane changing.

Whitacre said the drivers of both vehicles gave conflicting testimonies

“(Turner) stated that the pickup came up behind him and tried to pass him on the highway median,” Whitacre said.

An eyewitness to the accident was able to corroborate Al Sams’ account. Sams said he’s not sure why the accident happened.

“He kept pushing and pushing me,” Sams said. “He could have tapped me once and it would have been just a fender bender. But he kept pushing and rode me off the road.”

Turner, who was not injured either, declined to comment.

Al Sams said the accident damaged the truck beyond repair – crushing its roof and smashing its windshield. But for his grandson A.J., the most significant damage was done to the motorbike and all-terrain vehicle in the bed of the truck.

“The bike got smashed up pretty good, but I think I can straighten out the ATV for (A.J.),” Al Sams said.

A.J. has been motocross racing since he was 4 years old.

“I really want to get this thing fixed for him,” Al Sams said. “He really wants to race tonight.”

The Sams family was on their way to Ashland for one of A.J.’s races when the accident occurred.

Contact public affairs reporter Aman Ali at [email protected].