Police: 200 feet of guardrail went through car during deadly I-71 crash

Published: Nov. 2, 2022 at 12:46 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Cleveland police and the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office released new details regarding Tuesday’s deadly crash along I-71.

The Nov. 1 incident was initially reported just before 10 a.m. near the interstate’s West 130th Street exit.

Crash investigators said a 46-year-old man, identified by the medical examiner’s office as Freddie Bouchelle, was driving northbound in a 2006 Ford at speeds that were above the 60 miles per hour posted limit when, “for unknown reasons,” he went off the right side of the roadway.

The vehicle Bouchelle was driving collided with the end of the guardrail and pierced through the engine compartment all the way through the back window, Cleveland police said.

Video obtained through a public request to the Ohio Department of Transportation shows the moments leading up to the crash:

Approximately 200 feet of guardrail pierced through the length of the vehicle, according to investigators.

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19 News

Bouchelle, of Brooklyn, was taken by paramedics to MetroHealth Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

The Ohio Department of Transportation said the state paused the purchase of that specific type of guardrail in 2014, but resumed use following extensive federal testing until the product was no longer manufactured.

Approximately 15,000 “ET-Plus” terminals are currently in use in Ohio, the state’s transportation department said.

According to the United States Department of Transportation the “end terminal” of a guardrail is designed, “to absorb the energy of an impact by having the impact head slide down the length of the guardrail,” but in this particular case that did not happen and the guardrail pierced the vehicle.

The guardrails are tested at highway speeds and may not perform optimally at higher speeds.

Cleveland police will continue to investigate the circumstances of the crash, specifically what caused the victim to veer off the road.