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Head-on collision in Toledo kills 5, including 2 from Mich.

8:09 PM, Dec 31, 2007   |    comments
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Five people including two Redford sisters died in a crash late Sunday night when an Adrian man drove his pick-up the wrong way on I-280 near Toledo. The dead girls were identified by police as 10-year-old Haley Burkman and 7-year-old Lacie Burkman. Their brother, Beu Burkman, 8, was in stable condition at Toledo's St. Vincent Hospital, police said. Also killed in the accident were a mother and two children from Maryland who may have been relatives of the Burkmans. The Adrian man, Michael Gagnon, 24, had been drinking in a bar in Oregon, Ohio, before the accident, police said. Then he stopped at a Taco Bell for some food. Gagnon was charged with five counts of aggravated vehicular homicide and had a blood-alcohol level of 0.254, according to warrants filed today in Toledo Municipal Court. The charge is a second-degree felony. Minimum penalty is two years in prison. Maximum penalty is eight years. The warrants state Gagnon was driving a 2005 Ford F350 super duty pickup truck north in the southbound lanes of I-280 when he struck a white 1999 Chevrolet Astro van driven by Danny Griffin Jr. nearly head-on on the I-280 south ramp from I-75 south. His truck ripped off the passenger side of the minivan, causing several people to be thrown from the van, according to the court records. Toledo police have scheduled a 3:30 p.m. press conference at police headquarters in downtown Toledo to discuss the accident. The restaurant's employees called police to report that a drunken driver was at their establishment. By the time police arrived, Gagnon was already heading the wrong way on the interstate just north of Toledo, near the Michigan border. Gagnon was driving his Ford F350 north in the southbound lanes just before 11 p.m. when he hit a Chevy Astro minivan driven by Danny Griffin, 36, of Parkville, Md. The vehicles hit almost head-on as the drivers tried to swerve and avoid each other. Gagnon's pick-up sheared off the passenger-side doors of the minivan, causing several passengers of the van to fall out. Griffin's wife, Bethany, 36, was killed in the crash. So were the couple's 10-year-old daughter, Jordan, and eight-week-old daughter, Vadi. The Griffins were heading home to Maryland after visiting family in Michigan for the holidays, police said. Gagnon, who smelled of intoxicants, was taken to St. Vincent's hospital, police said. They plan to arrest him when he is released. Another Griffin daughter, Sidney, 8, was in critical condition at the hospital, police said Monday morning. Danny Griffin was admitted to the hospital in stable condition.

By EMILIA ASKARI, FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

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