Troopers: Garbage truck lacked lights, had poor reflective tape

(UPDATED WITH FULL STORY)Authorities say a poorly marked Canfield-Hartley garbage truck may be to blame for a crash that pinned a sanitation worker between two vehicles in Monday night's downpour.
Emil Whitis
Nov 30, 2011


(UPDATED WITH FULL STORY)Authorities say a poorly marked Canfield-Hartley garbage truck may be to blame for a crash that pinned a sanitation worker between two vehicles in Monday night’s downpour. 

 Meanwhile Christopher Thompson, 39, got out of surgery at about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday. Thompson’s friend Sue Meredith said doctors are optimistic he’ll make a full recovery.       

“Sounds like it’s going to be a long road to recovery,” Meredith said. “But he’s going to keep both his legs.”

At about 5:30 p.m. Monday a silver Chevrolet Malibu driven by Anthony Demore, 71, of Sandusky, slammed into the back of the garbage truck near the intersection of West Monroe Street and Gartland Avenue. The car wedged under the truck, trapping Thompson’s legs between the two vehicles. He fell face-down on the shattered windshield, struggling to get free, witnesses said.

Thompson’s co-worker James Gessner, 58, was the first of three people to call 911.

“We got an accident on Monroe Street,” Gessner tells the dispatcher while Thompson’s pleas for help penetrate the conversation. “A car hit the guy on the back of the truck.”

For about 45 minutes Thompson was trapped there in agony while firefighters worked to free him. They jacked the truck up and pulled the car from underneath.

“I hit the brakes as soon as I could,” said Demore, who survived the crash with minor bumps and bruises. “There weren’t any lights on (the truck). It was dark and raining.”

He said that, under the circumstances, the collision was “unavoidable.”

Troopers spent hours Tuesday recreating the scene in a dark garage. What they found at least partially corroborated Demore’s account.  

“The reflective tape (on the back of the truck) was very poor,” Ohio State Highway Patrol Sgt. Joe Wentworth said. “There were lights on the top that weren’t working.”

Wentworth said Thompson wasn’t wearing a reflective safety vest, either. Troopers staged photos behind the garbage truck with headlights focused on its back. A trooper stood behind the truck with and without a reflective vest.

“(With the vest) it was very apparent that the trooper was there,” Wentworth said. “With no vest the trooper kind of blended in with the back of the truck.”

Troopers also took daytime photos of the intersection.

Once troopers wrap up the investigation, they’ll send the report to Sandusky Municipal Court prosecutor Lynn Gast-King for consideration. It’ll be up to Gast-King what, if any, charges will be filed.  

“It’s not up to me to decide (who’s at fault),” Wentworth said. “That’s up to a judge or jury. ...My job is to document what happened.”

A secretary at W G Canfield said the company’s owner, Harry Kresser, declined comment.

“Our company doesn’t have any comment at this time,” the secretary said. “We just ask for the community’s prayers and support for the family effected.”

Demore also offered his sympathy and inquired about Thompson’s condition over the phone.  

“I feel sorry for the person, but there wasn’t anything I could have done to prevent it,” he said. “I regret it ever happened.”


Gramma of Six

No one should judge until you know the facts it could happen to anyone of us in a flash...just pray that they will both be alright...


Your comment is the only one - who was judging?


She might have been commenting on the previous article on this story. There were some negative comments there. We should all pray for both parties involved.


Hmm, I don't believe there is parking on either side of West Monroe near Gartland and that area is notorious for speeding.  Mr. Demore should keep his mouth shut until the OSP determines who is at fault.


Keep his mouth shut?  I personally know Mr. Demore and he is a very kind and thoughtful man, and I know he is absolutely devastated by what happened.  It is a horrible accident and could happen to anyone, anytime.  And no, there were no lights on the truck, and he was wearing no safety vest.  Maybe you should keep your mouth shut. I am personally praying for both families.

Edwin Ison

 I would imagine that a car plowing into the rear of a stationary truck would cause some lights to stop functioning... how does the OSP know the violent collision didn't knock loose filaments and/or the grounding system of the rear lights?

Plain and simple...... the driver of the car is at fault for wrecklessly rear ending a 40,000 to 60,000 pound truck.

Bada Bing

as horrible as it may be it was an accident!  Surely there was no intent to harm another person.  Mr.Demore is a kind person and a human,as the rest of us,he wouldn't want to hurt anyone,especially the horrible way this happened.  It could have happened to any of us,unfortunely it was him...So sorry for all involved and prayers go out to all involved!!




To answer your question about "how they know".... Troopers and crash investigators are trained to know how to determine whether a light was working before a crash. It's not something they just guess at, there's procedures in place to determine these things. For example,  it's also used when someone says they had their turn signal on and another person says they didn't.

If the bulb is intact and it's plugged in, chances are there's an issue somewhere else not caused by a crash. Especially so when they're high mounted and the crash occured low.


Plain and simple? There's nothing plain and simple about this accident. A lot of factures come into play when it's raining, at night and neither the truck nor the person have proper safety equipment. You're either sadly ill-informed on these matters or a sad person for pre-maturely judging the driver... or both.

Edwin Ison

 Mr. Morency,

I understand your point..... yet you use the phrase "chances are" to determine the OSP's infallibility in determining the trucks lighting system functionality.

Are you aware that large truck lighting systems are wired in series and the upper lights are frequently last in that series? Therefore damage anywhere in-line before the top lights, and having damage from the collision, "could" render the top lights inoperable.

That said, the light may have in fact been inoperable.... but there is NO way to determine if they were... it's just an educated guess. They also may have been covered in road film from the crappy weather.

The fault in this accident may be split somewhat.... yet how one drives 25mph down a lighted street, and does not see a huge, working garbage truck is curious..... maybe the driver of the car experienced a health/age issue such as impaired vision or reaction time? Maybe the car did not have working headlights?

Given the unknowns, and considering the "facts"... I'd say the fault lies 90%+ in the direction of the initiator of the collision.

I don't have a dog in this fight, unlike some obvious posts on both sides.... I hope the young man recovers to some point of reasonable health.... and that insurance covers costs so that no one is financially devastated by this accident.

It could happen to anyone!



Edwin Ison - where did you get a degree in automotive wiring - I'm not aware of any lighting on any vehicle that is series wired.  All automotive lights are 12 volts - if they were wired in series there would not be very bright bulbs on any vehicle.  All bulbs on vehicles are wired to get full 12 volts to each bulb which is not series.  The only case where one bulb burns out another may not work right would be turning signals - and that's because of the blinker relay and not series wired.  The lights at the top of the vehicle would most likely NOT be effected by this accident.  Also, did you see the car that hit the truck?  I would say there wasn't much damage to the rear bumber of the truck, the bumper is pretty solid - it's not likely that any lights went out because of the accident - at least not on the truck.  You'll never tell about the car having it's lights on in the dark though due to the accident.


mr. morency, what is a "factures"?

Darwin's choice

.............Assured Clear Distance...............Failed!


I have seen some of these garbage trucks with no functioning tail lights.  I don't know how some of garbage trucks pass inspection.  Some of those trucks even make a lot of noise when they stop so I figure they need a brake job.  Why aren't the garbage trucks required to have yellow flashing lights on the backend of the truck when they are stopped?  More safety precautions should be required.  A lot of them are collecting garbage at 10:00 at night which is against the ordinance.  Maybe the city can add some safety requirements to their ordinance for the trucks so this doesn't happen again.

The Answer Person




Senior testing? Get real, this is an accident that YOU would probably be involved with. I have never heard of such an accident in this area before and loons come out demanding Gestapo treatment. I bet YOU talk and text, I say cut your fingers and ears off NOW! 


Really dont care who's at fault.  Hope they both make a full recovery.  I hope the poor guy that got hit will be able to walk again.  Anyone have any update to his condition.


 I hope they both are okay...horrible accident! 

Now my opinion: I don't care wether it's a mail truck with ambers flashing, a well lit BFI truck, UPS or a potato chip truck with their hazards on,  I say they ALL should be pulled off to the side in a regular parking space or ticketed. In the early morning some of these trash trucks act like they rule the road, just stopping RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE with me behind them sitting & waiting as they repeat the process15 feet up the street again. UPS & Fed Ex trucks are also horrible about this during afternoon rush hour. I'm surprised there's not more of what happened above going on. 


This garbage company pick up my trash every Tuesday afternoon and this is just tragic. I hope he will recover and get back to his family soon. I understand the protocals that are in effect for certain motor vehicles and respect it. But, come on! How could this man not see there was a huge vehicle in front of hime? He had to be going faster than 25mph and this street is well lite. I believe that after you reach a certain age you should be required to re-take your driver's licsense test annually to ensure you are good to drive.


@thingsthatmakey  I was merely advising from a legal stand point.  It should be pretty obvious that Mr. Demore will be found at fault in the accident so I was merely saying that he should keep his mouth shut for the possible legal ramifications.  Sheesh, you try to look out for someone's best interests and somoene who claims s/he knows the person slams you.


Any accident is just that, an accident, and I too hope for the smooth recovery of all that were injured. There are reasons that something like this happens!

Recently, I was standing in line, to get my drivers license renewed, and there was an older gentleman in front of me. He stepped to the eye machine and was given instructions to report when he saw the flashing lights. He never did and after a terribly difficult time giving answers to the examiners questions she told him that he had passed and he stepped into a renewal.

Next at the counter, I asked to see the supervisor, having wittnessed the previous examination. The young lady told me that she was the supervisor. I explained that I was a bit upset at what I just saw. I asked her how she could possibly have passed the gentleman. Her reply: "I am not going to be the one to tell that gentleman that he can no longer drive." She was quite perturbed that I would have questioned her judgement.

Isn't it interesting how the line of responsibility could stretch back so far? I wonder if it was the same guy!



@DriaDria, I can tell you how, at 5:30 it is now dark. The Garbage truck had no working rear lights, no functional reflective tape attached to the rear, which coincidently is required by law, and the Garbage man was not wearing a reflective vest. These factors would make it very difficult to see the truck until you were right up on it.


My brother got into a accident on old railroad, man had a car broke down in street, no lights,dark out,no street lights. snow on road. Guess what brother was charged  .Assured Clear Distance

He tried to fight it, but brother was told you have to have your vehicle under control at all times. Judge said he should of seen car from reflection of his headlights. ITS THE LAW


@crazyrick - I completely and totally agree with you that the car driver will most likely be charged, but on the other hand, there could be a good civil lawsuit by the driver of the car.  This could be a mess in court.  Let's also hope that Hartley-Canfield has been paying workers compensation or there could be yet another court mess.

I'm not sure this will end well for either side - to be honest.  And just because the driver of the car will get ticketed for assured clear distance, it doesn't keep the truck driver from also being charge with operating an unsafe vehicle - there can be tickets issued to both operators making both equally responsible, and this will really start the civil lawsuits rolling.

First, let's get these guys nursed back to health, then worry about who's going to sue who and for what.  But I do see it happening.


YOUR WRONG the only civil lawsuit here is the driver getting sued by the Thompson.

How many lawyers have contacted him for a lawsuit, its called chasing the money.

If they charge Canfields it WILL get thrown out of court. They have to follow the law.

It doesnt matter if the truck had NO LIGHTS OR REFLECTORS, he should have seen the truck DUH

Oh and your vehicle under control at all times.




crazyrick, I know when you hit someone from behind its your fault, but if the car in front of you doesn't have proper lighting, and its dark????  Geez its a dark truck, in the dark, in the rain without proper lights.  I gotta believe the law is on the side of the car unless he was speeding.


How can you keep assured clear distance of something you can't see?


I also know Tony, and I am sure he is devastated.  It was just that "an accident"  When I backed into a parked car a while ago, the police officer told me that this is why they are called accidents, because I didn't do anything on purpose.  I was distracted by motorlcycles running around the parking lot.  I am also a senior and I woud WELCOME testing all of us over 70. I am sure that Tony would pass with flying colors.  I wish a speedy recovery to all involved.  Also, I know some of these garbage pickup men and they are in a hurry and can forget to watch out for drivers.  It is one of the hazzards of their jobs.  Everyone needs to slow down a bit and remember that "safety begins with me"


I blame the City for not having a one hauler system.  Some of these trucks out there are some real hoopties!


Funny thing is... I seen a garbage truck out this morning even after this has happened, and the workers were NOT wearing reflective vests!! Also, not all the lights were  working at the rear of the truck.


I told my husband about this story....i told him about the tape on the rear of truck and how the lights weren't working.. he guessed the correct trash service...WOW everyone knows that these trucks aren't to working order... GET THEM FIXED so no one else gets hurt. Hope everyone is okay

Edwin Ison

 Sandusky Steve,


I only meant that the running/marker lights are on a common circuit....and damage to that circuit could render those lights inoperable. I guess parallel is the correct term.

That the lights on the truck were not working is speculative at best.

A terrible situation all around.



"Wentworth said. “With no vest the trooper kind of blended in with the back of the truck." what? still seen the truck? point and case. i dont care what you people think, you should be in control of your vehicle at all times. cant see the road ahead of you because of conditions? slow down or get off the road. should we all just drive down the street and ASSUME that it is clear?

sure this situation could of been helped, with proper reflective tapeing and lights. but why do we keep protecting the idiots in this screw someones life up and everyone sides with the idiot who ran into you.

Prayers to both and speedy recovery.   Is this not considered a work related injury, Thomas was on the job; company that employed him has to provide for his safety. Wonder if they provided him a safety vest, training, truck up to regulations, pre-trip inspection? Company has to follow DOT and OSHA rules. If not, even if other driver is at fault the company could still face fines or litigation.   I know from experience minor impacts can take out lights, even if impact is on opposite end of vehicle. If the entire lens broke, it should be no problem for CSI Sandusky to determine they were on. Looks like they just looked at some intact lights that were not functioning, and said they were inoperable at crash. I also find it hard to believe on that road, at posted speed, even in rain, that you could not see a big garbage truck.  

I still can't understand how, if Tony had his headlights on, he could have not seen this big truck and not slowed down to check things out.  Something doesn't seem right.  The article didn't say if they did an alcohol test on Tony, did he have his lights on, was he distracted in anyway like on the cell phone, and how fast he was going.  Even though some safety precautions were not there, you still could see ahead of you if your lights were on and would have had time to respond.


@ Joker:  My apologies.  Call it a hazard of reading text rather than having an actual conversation like people "used" to.  In my defense though, 'shut your mouth' isn't usually associated with positivity.


@ Darkhorse...Tony doesn't drink, period. Besides that, they did do a blood test.


Two comments. Years ago I was driving on a dark country road and came upon a disabled car parked in the middle of the road. I almost rear ended it. When I got home (this was before cell phones) I called the state patrol and advised them of the car. I was told that if I had hit it, it would have been my fault. Second, this same type of accident happened to a Fremont man years ago (I believe in the 80's). He was killed. I think his last name was Rucker, but am not for sure.


I've been working for family owned trucking related companies for over 20 years . They don't care about saftey just profit if it runs and moves drive it. The law says the driver has the rite to red tag a truck for any reason but try it and he won't last long .A pretrip inspection is required by law with paperwork to be filled out and turned in but 99 percent of the time the driver is not given time to do this because of profit margin .




Is it safe to assume you've never misspelled a word while typing? I guess it is, since you make it a point to single me out and point out my mistake. If you're that stuck on proper grammar, perhaps you should correctly capitalize pronouns when you use them (Mr. Morency).


For those of you not in the transportation industry. All lights must work at all times and must be repaired if they go out during a working shift. Reflective tape is mandated by the Federal DOT where it must be located and must be maintained at all times. For those needing more information on these questions see regulations under CSA 2010. As far as I can remember Canfields trucks could not legally pass a Federal Inspection if they tried. Maybe the DOT should do an audit on their maintenance practices. As far as the gentleman that hit the employee, he was most likely distracted. Federal statistics show over 90% of car truck accidents are caused by motorists not the commercial trucks. Look it up!!


@ mrmorency says

If you need to refresh your spelling, I teach a part time 2 hour a week refresher class.  Tweentie daolarrs adn I will bea abel two hepl you spel crecttly.






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The law is black and white noooooo grey  Judge Stacy rest his  soul told my brother and I quote “I don’t care  how dark it was, or he had no lights on, how much snow was on the road, you have to have control of your vehicle at all times besides if you hurt or killed someone what would your excuse be. If you want to argue with me I will hold you in contempt of court, and ask the bailiff to take you out of here.


I  LMAO at my brother and told him don’t argue with judge. LOLOLOL


Beside’s its all about the money !!!!

The rest is conversation  !!!


Right BOBWAD ?


Horace Mann

If you don't understand this:

"No person shall operate a motor vehicle . . . at a greater speed than will permit the person to bring it to a stop within the assured clear distance ahead."

you should read it until you do, because you're a very dangerous driver if you don't.

It's from the first paragraph of ORC 4511.21 and it's even more important for your safety and that of others than the posted speed limit.

In most cases, if you couldn't stop in time to avoid hitting something because you didn't see it due to a dip in the road, or a blind corner, or another vehicle, or a billboard, or it was dark, or it wasn't lit -- WHATEVER -- even if someone else did something wrong, too, YOU BROKE THE LAW. Ohio's assured clear distance law plainly states that, and pretty much obligates you to ASSUME there's something just beyond where you can see and adjust your speed accordingly.

For example, even if the speed limit is 45, when you approach a blind corner, you need to ASSUME there's a disabled vehicle just out of sight, and slow down enough (25? 15? Whatever it takes!) so that if there is one, you can stop. If it's foggy and you can only see 50 feet, you better be able to stop in less than that.

WAY too many driver don't even know this law exists, much less understand it, and that's lamentable.




U.S. Naval Observatory
Astronomical Applications Department

The following information is provided for Sandusky, Erie County, Ohio (longitude W82.7, latitude N41.5):

        28 November 2011      Eastern Standard Time         

        Begin civil twilight       7:04 a.m.                
        Sunrise                    7:34 a.m.                
        Sun transit               12:19 p.m.                
        Sunset                     5:03 p.m.                
        End civil twilight         5:34 p.m. 




OK, I'm sold.  From a legal standpoint, the driver of the car was likely at fault.  But that doesn't mean the garbage company won't be sited.  And insurance companys' determination of fault doesn't always line up with the law.  And anyone can sue anyone for anything.  Lessons to be learned all around.


Can anyone tell me if Mr Thomson was also the driver of the truck? 

I am wondering if it possible that the truck was actually moving just before the collision allowing for Thompson to be outside the truck gathering trash.  

Rather, I am suggesting that if Mr Demore was following the moving truck (albeit closely) and the truck made a sudden stop to allow Thompson to drop bags in the back (which Demore did not see due to lack of safety vest and poor conditions that evening)  it would not have allowed for proper time to react and caused the collision.   

Is this a possible determination? Or is it already concluded the truck was at a complete stop as Demore appraoched from further away?  


A Safe speed is defined as traveling at a speed that allows you to stop in ONE HALF the distance you can see.  Obviously this driver failed this basic common sense rule and the cause of the injury to the worker was due to failing to follow at a safe speed.  When you outdrive your ability to see, you will eventually hit something.  Prayers for recovery are in order.


On Monday around 4:30 p.m. I was behind a Canfield-Hartley truck picking up trash on the west end of Venice Road - it very well may have been the same truck that was later involved in this incident on Monroe Street.  The truck I was behind had working lights on the back - they were not very bright, but they were working.  The guy on the back of the truck was wearing light colored coveralls and a bright orange knit cap.  At 4:30 p.m. it was raining and dim daylight.  I could see the truck and the worker just fine.  The driver of the car between me and the garbage truck was in such a freakin hurry, he/she pulled around the stopped truck into the opposing lane with oncoming traffic that had to drive off the side of the road to avoid this idiot driver who had no regard for anyone else on the road including the pedestrian worker.


  I think if you can't see a garbage can standing still in the middle of your lane, black, with no lights, no reflective tape, in a 35 MPH zone, just maybe you shouldn't be driving at night.  I don't want to be "Dead Right". 


I love all these Monday morning quarterbacking comments. God people, let the Highway Patrol investigate! In the meanwhile, have a cup of stfu.