Some residents of Orders Road in Grove City want answers after an accident on Aug. 4 claimed the life of a retired Franklin County sheriff’s deputy.
They brought their concerns to council on Aug. 6.
Sgt. Steve Bollinger, 58, died after the vehicle he was riding in collided with a utility pole on Orders Road, west of Hoover Road. Franklin County Sheriff’s Deputy Greg Thomas was driving the vehicle when he lost control and crashed. He was taken to Mount Carmel West, where his condition has not yet been released. Bollinger was pronounced dead at Grant Medical Center.
Bollinger had retired with the sheriff’s department after 27 years of service. After his retirement he became a special duty officer and was on his way home from a special duty assignment when he was killed. He lived in Grove City and leaves behind a wife and daughter.
Orders Road residents
The accident happened in front of Gerald Kimmel’s home. He addressed council and said he was speaking for several residents along the road. The reconstruction of Orders Road was completed about a year ago.
"Since the road was redone that pole has been hit three times," Kimmel said. "Poor engineering and poor planning went into that road."
Kimmel said he had tried to contact city officials several times and was always given the runaround. He was concerned about the placement of the utility poles.
"Those poles should have never been left there so close to the road," he commented. "I guess the city didn’t want to move them (when they were reconstructing the road) in order to save some money."
In addition to the danger of the utility pole placement, Kimmel said his mailbox has been knocked out several times and when it rains the yards get flooded. It was raining the afternoon Bollinger was killed.
"No one has been concerned until now," said Kimmel. "It’s tragic it had to come to this."
Council president Richard Lester assured residents that the city’s administration will thoroughly investigate the design of the roadway.
Grove City Division of Police Chief Dennis Deskins said the cause of the accident is still under investigation and will be for days to come. The department has a traffic crash reconstruction team working on the details.
"I understand the urgency of Orders Road residents," said Deskins, "but it is our job to determine the cause."
He asked residents not to jump to conclusions about the roadway saying there are many factors involved with a fatal crash.
"Most likely when a vehicle goes off the road – it will hit something. Just allow the investigation to tell us the cause."
Deskins said many of his officers personally knew Bollinger. He said he had a great career at the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.
"It was a very tragic day. We have a job to do while mourning the deputy," said Deskins. "Let us also pray for the deputy injured."
Council members Ted Berry and Maria Klemack-McGraw have been working on legislation to make burying utility lines in a Grove City development a priority. The proposed legislation would require city administration to provide appropriate design and cost estimates for any development or redevelopment of roadway, street or public facility.
"If the proposed policy had been in tact the accident might not have happened," said Klemack-McGraw. "Needless loss of life would become increasingly rare if power lines were underground."
Klemack-McGraw said she has received overwhelming support from residents on the issue. She said some city leaders have argued against underground utility lines saying the cost is too high.
Lester said he was under the impression that the city already considered underground lines before a construction project or new development got underway.
"An ordinance is just a paper trail," he said.
A city mourning
Bollinger and his family have been active in the Grove City community. Berry said they were part of the Grove City Tomorrow Committee and participated in many events.
"Please keep them in your prayers," Berry said.
Mayor Cheryl Grossman added, "We offer our sympathy to Deputy Bollinger’s family and we share in their grief."