Photo courtesy of the Toledo Blade
By JOE VARDON
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Story credit: Toledo Blade
With a supportive brace around his neck and an arm in a sling yesterday, James Campbell agreed the incident was like a bad episode of Girls Gone Wild.
Mr. Campbell was driving north late Tuesday afternoon on I-75, just south of Perrysburg, when he swerved to avoid something coming toward him. His Dodge Neon lurched into the median and flipped several times.
He ended up with a helicopter ride to Toledo Hospital, a fractured vertebra in his neck, and a broken thumb. His passenger, Jeff Long, is still at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center with a broken rib and possible liver damage.
“It was crazy. I don’t think Jimmy knew what it was, so he swerved,” Mr. Long said.
So, what was the unidentified flying object? It wasn’t a piece of tire, a rock, or even an animal.
It was a red bra, previously hung on the antenna of a Mercury Sable occupied by four teenage girls who, well, went a little wild. And the Ohio Highway Patrol is considering charges against them.
Mr. Long, 47, of Toledo, said he and Mr. Campbell, 37, also of Toledo, saw the girls sticking their pierced tongues out and making inappropriate gestures toward them. He said one girl climbed from the back of the car to the front, hung a red bra on the antenna, and rolled up the window.
“Usually a girl will make eye contact and you’ll just wave and that will be it. I don’t know what those girls were trying to do,” Mr. Campbell said. “They went a little overboard and me and my partner got the worst of it.”
Trooper Chris Hasty said she has identified three of the girls in the car and is looking for the fourth. All are 17.
Trooper Hasty said witnesses have corroborated Mr. Campbell’s story, saying the girls flashed other motorists. Neither Mr. Campbell nor Mr. Long said they saw any skin, like that seen on the raunchy Girls Gone Wild videos, often advertised on late-night television.
Mr. Campbell, who was tossed from the car as it flipped, was cited for not wearing a seat belt and for failure to maintain control of his vehicle. He’s a little upset that, so far, he’s the only one to get a ticket.
“I get cited and I’m not even the one who did anything,” Mr. Campbell said. “What’s the world coming to where 17-year-old girls would do something like that on the highway?”
Despite the injuries, Mr. Campbell figures it could have been worse. “It could’ve been a whole pile of cars instead of one that flipped. That wouldn’t have been good at all,” he said.
A time-worn excuse for failing to hand in one’s homework has been offered as the reason that a red bra triggered a rollover accident last month on northbound I-75 in Wood County.
The dog ate it.
The driver of a car containing four teenage girls, Tabitha Adams, 17, of Bowling Green, told the Ohio Highway Patrol that one of her passengers took the bra off underneath a shirt because the family dog had chewed it earlier that day, causing it to fray.
Emily Davis, 17, of Bowling Green admitted that it was her bra that broke and later flew from the car’s antenna on Sept. 26 along I-75 in Middleton Township, according to a 24-page state patrol crash report released yesterday.
Two Toledo men in a trailing 2006 Dodge Neon were injured when driver James Campbell told troopers he swerved to avoid the flying bra and his car flipped several times in the grass median.
Asked by Trooper C.R. Hasty what lane they were in when the accident occurred, Mr. Campbell’s passenger, Jeff Long, replied: “The fast lane.”
Mr. Campbell, 37, was ejected from the vehicle and transported by medical helicopter to Toledo Hospital, where he was treated for a broken vertebra in his neck and a fractured thumb.
Mr. Long, 40, was taken by ambulance to St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center in Toledo for broken ribs and possible liver damage. Both men were later released.
After what witnesses described as verbal interaction between the girls in Tabitha’s Mercury Sable and the guys in Mr. Campbell’s car, Emily hung her bra over the antenna, from which it shortly flew off, the report states.
Tim Atkins, a juvenile prosecutor in Wood County, said yesterday that a misdemeanor littering charge will be filed against Emily next week.
Mr. Atkins said he didn’t think any additional charges will be filed, but he wanted to discuss the matter further with the troopers who handled the case before making a final decision.
Among the issues Mr. Atkins is exploring:
• Should the driver be charged with leaving the scene of an injury accident or complicity in the bra stunt?
According to the crash investigation report by the Walbridge post of the Ohio Highway Patrol, the girls said they saw Mr. Campbell’s car flip in Tabitha’s rear-view mirror, and one of them indicated she saw someone fly out of the vehicle.
Yet the driver continued northbound on I-75 until they exited at U.S. 20 in Perrysburg and pulled into a parking lot at the Bob Evans restaurant.
Emily told a trooper she called 911 immediately after the accident occurred.
When asked why they didn’t stop to help, Emily told the investigator the girls weren’t sure what to do and the driver was upset.
Another passenger in Tabitha’s car, Angelia Church, 17, of Northwood, told Trooper Hasty that the girls didn’t return to the scene on the advice of the driver’s mother, who reportedly told them not to go back because there would be too much traffic on the highway.
Mr. Atkins said he didn’t think there was much more the driver could’ve done.
“Short of stopping the car on the highway, which is just as dangerous as anything else, the only thing she could’ve done is ask the [passengers] to cease and desist,” Mr. Atkins said.
In the investigation report, Tabitha said she told Emily not to hang her bra outside because she knew it would fly away.
• Who was the fourth girl in Tabitha’s vehicle?
Troopers still do not know her identity.
The other three teenagers all reported her first name was Robin, and one said she thought her last name began with an “S.” But none of the girls knew Robin’s last name or where the girl lived.
One of the girls told an investigator that Robin lifted her shirt during the ordeal, but not far enough to expose her breasts.
• What about an indecent exposure charge?
Mr. Atkins said there was not enough information to warrant such a charge against any of the girls.
A lack of information and conflicting statements seemed to be a recurring theme during the investigation, according to statements given to the highway patrol.
Mr. Campbell, for example, told investigators that he was driving with his seat belt on.
His statement to the state police was supported in a separate interview with Mr. Long.
But when state troopers asked Mr. Campbell why he unbuckled his seat belt, the report states he responded: “ I don’t know why.”
One independent witness told investigators the girls made gestures with their mouths and lifted their shirts toward Mr. Campbell and Mr. Long, but the men did not report seeing any skin.
Angelia said the girls were pretending to flash another car in traffic, but all three girls insisted when questioned by state troopers that they refused to expose themselves when Mr. Campbell and Mr. Long made gestures asking them to do so.
Both men denied making such gestures.
Mr. Campbell admitted waving to the girls, while Mr. Long said he merely pointed and told his friend to “look at these fools.”
Mr. Long, who was interviewed while he was still at the hospital, had a baseline heart rate of 84 through most of his interview with Trooper Hasty.
When answering questions about whether he “conversed visually” with the girls, the trooper noted that Mr. Long’s heart rate exceeded 100.
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