Information from another driver led Avon police to an 18-year-old Avon Lake woman who investigators say caused a tanker truck to crash and spill ethanol and Interstate 90 to be shut down for 12 hours May 17.

The woman was scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday in Avon Lake Municipal Court on charges of

failing to stop after a crash and making an illegal U-turn. She was driving west in a 2006 Ford Focus on I-90 between the State Route 611 exit in Avon and the SR 254 exit in Sheffield Village when she made an illegal turnaround in the median, police said.

She re-entered the highway on the eastbound side, without yielding to oncoming traffic, and caused the tanker driver to swerve to avoid her car and the truck to flip onto its side, police said. The driver, Michael Hauzer, 56, of Middleburg Heights, was treated at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland for two cracked vertebrae.

Another driver called police that evening and described seeing the Focus go through the median without stopping and the tanker truck tipping and crashing while trying to avoid the car. The other driver told police the Focus slowed briefly after the crash, then sped off to the gas pumps at BJ’s Wholesale Club off SR 611.

The driver followed at a distance and took pictures of the Focus’s license plate before the car left the pumps. The other driver described the Focus driver as a girl between 16 and 18.

Police used the information to trace the Focus to its owners in Avon Lake. Investigators learned that the car belongs to the 18-year-old woman’s mother and stepfather, who said their daughter is the only one who drives it.

When police questioned the couple Sunday night, they said the woman had gone to visit her father in Cleveland. The 18-year-old later agreed to talk with police, but she refused to give a statement at the police station. Her stepfather told police he would contact an attorney for her.

The truck was carrying 8,000 gallons of ethanol and less than 100 gallons spilled on the roadway, said Avon Fire Chief Frank Root. Hazmat crews cleaned up the highly flammable material spill and four homes on Deerfield Drive were evacuated during the cleanup.

Contact this reporter at assoceditor@westlifenews.com or 440-871-5797.

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