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2 deadly pileups close Ohio Turnpike; snow grounds flights

TOLEDO, Ohio — Blowing snow led to whiteout conditions across Ohio on Saturday afternoon, causing numerous accidents and pileups that shut down interstates in northern and central Ohio.

Two people were killed in separate accidents on the Ohio Turnpike while a wave of heavy snow limited visibility at the Columbus airport and forced all flights to be grounded for a few hours.

At least one person died in a multi-vehicle pileup that closed the westbound lanes of the Ohio Turnpike just west of Sandusky. Another pileup on the turnpike about 30 miles west of the Indiana state line left one person dead.

The toll road was turning away all westbound traffic coming from the Cleveland and Akron areas all the way to the Indiana line — a 180-mile stretch of the turnpike.

The turnpike also issued a travel ban for large commercial vehicles and passenger cars pulling trailers.

About 20 miles vehicles were involved in a pileup on Interstate 70 west of Columbus, the State Highway Patrol said. It was one of several accidents that closed the highway in both directions.

"This road is like a skating rink," said Greg Olinger, of Dayton, whose truck jack-knifed after he swerved to avoid the wreckage in front of him. "I couldn't see anything. It was a whiteout."

Another truck driver, Arthur Barnett of Columbus, saw the accident unfold right in front of him.

"What he did definitely saved a lot of lives by him going off the road," said Barnett, whose truck was hit and shoved off the road by several cars behind him.

At least five counties in the northwestern corner of the state were telling all drivers except emergency workers to stay off the roads during the early part of the afternoon.

Accidents on interstates in the Cleveland and Akron areas also forced several roadways to be closed.

Associated Press photographer Alex Brandon in West Jefferson contributed to this report.