It’s been a deadly summer in southern Lorain County, as Wellington fire chief Mike Wetherbee can tell you.
“Right now we are on record pace for calls this year and quite a few of them have been motor vehicle accidents,” he said. “And unfortunately so far in our district this year we’ve had five fatalities.”
Fatalities in Lorain County in general are also up this year. Wetherbee believes the number has already surpassed the total for all of 2014 and it’s only August.
AAA refers to the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day as the “100 deadliest days” of the year because fatal teen crashes historically rise during these summer months.
Wetherbee on the other hand doesn’t think the time of the year has that big of an effect on crashes.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s summer, spring, fall,” he said. “A crash can occur at any time.”
And Wetherbee thinks distracted driving is part of the problem.
“We don’t have any solid proof that that’s been the cause of any of our accidents but driver distraction is a big thing,” he said. “Driver distraction is huge because everybody’s in a hurry to get somewhere nowadays and if they can drive and do something else at the same time they’re saving time whether it’s eating or putting on makeup.”
Although his firefighters have responded to a number of motor vehicle crashes this year, Wetherbee said he has noticed a decrease in the number of motorcycle wrecks.
“That’s a good sign that people are watching out for cyclists and cyclists themselves are driving safer,” he said.
Crashes aren’t the only thing contributing to the fire district’s record pace for calls this year.
Wetherbee said his crews respond to everything from false alarms to fires to wires down and even when animals fall into the water.
“We get called to basically everything that you don’t know who else to call,” he said.
When responding to so many calls it’s important to know the best route to take and which roads are blocked by construction. A 35-day closure of Rt. 58 to finish the railroad underpass project is expected to begin after fair.
The fire chief said he isn’t worried about construction interfering with response times. He said the county and the village keep the district well informed so they know what alternate routes to take.
Kelsey Leyva can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @TWE_KelseyLeyva on Twitter.
Kelsey Leyva | Wellington Enterprise Wellington fire chief Mike Wetherbee says his department is on record pace responding to calls this year.