Cleveland tragedy prompts memories of Centerville accident, changes for police and fire


A Cleveland Police officer was struck and killed in a hit-and-run crash Tuesday morning.

The Cleveland event prompted memories of another tragic 1998 event that killed a police officer and firefighter in Centerville.

A police officer in Cleveland was killed on Tuesday morning after being struck by a vehicle that later drove off. The officer was rerouting traffic after a previous crash when the incident occurred, according to

The incident brought to mind a January 1998 tragedy during which Centerville police Officer John Kalaman and Washington Twp. firefighter Robert O'Toole were killed while responding to an icy traffic accident.

Here are eight things to remember about those first responder deaths, and what change was caused by the incident:

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A Carmaro slid on ice. Kalaman and O'Toole were responding to a previous accident on Jan. 12, 1998, when the car slid off the road on Interstate 675 and into the median, striking them.

Hundreds attended memorial visitations.They included many who had never met them, but were in the same line of work. The visitations were held at Incarnation Parish Center and Tobias Funeral Home three days after the incident.

The funeral home dropped its flag to half mast. Dr. James Apesos, whose plastic surgery office has been across from the funeral home since 1989, said at the time that it was the first time he'd ever seen Tobias' flag at half-staff.

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The driver later delivered a statement to the media. "There was nothing I could do to prepare for or prevent this accident," the Beavercreek woman said. "I am deeply saddened by the injuries and loss of life that occurred on the road that morning." She broke down at that point, and her attorney read the final two sentences of the statement. The Montgomery County Prosecutor's Office later decided not to file charges.

Several area departments rewrote their policies in the months after the incident. In Englewood, for instance, newly written policies gave police or fire personnel authority to close a roadway if necessary. The city also purchased a sign for about $11,000 that was mounted in the back of a pickup truck and flashed messages, warnings and vehicle speeds to approaching motorists.

Part of I-675 was dedicated to Kalaman and O'Toole. Ohio Department of Transportation employees hung the 11-by-4-foot signs at the entrance ramps to I-675 at Wilmington Pike and Ohio 48 in January 1999. The I-675 highway portion was renamed the John Kalaman and Robert O'Toole Memorial Highway between Ohio 48 and Wilmington Pike.

A law was adopted about passing stopped law enforcement. A September 1999 law spurred signs to go up along Ohio interstate highways warning motorists to "move over or slow down" for stopped law enforcement vehicles, fire trucks or ambulances.

Other events have honored Kalaman and O'Toole. They have included golf fundraisers, blood drives and other events to remember the two and do good for the community.

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