OLIVE GREEN — They used whatever they had: A broom, a fast food bag, a plastic cup or their bare hands.
Motorists — including some area residents — who encountered approximately 300 to 500 one-inch nails that were spilled and scattered on the roadway of Ohio 61 in Delaware County, knew just what to do.
The spill occurred where Ohio 61 intersects with Ohio 656, just southwest of the village of Olive Green, near Sunbury.
At approximately 8:40 a.m. Thursday, commuters approaching the intersection from all four directions, stopped, blocked off the intersection and warned approaching motorists, then quickly mobilized to clean the spilled nails off of the roadway.
The bulk of the nails were deposited in the southbound side of Ohio 61, but many were scattered throughout the intersection. They were not just ordinary nails. Each was topped with a 1-inch wide plastic washer, which allowed many of the nails to point straight up — a real puncture hazard for tires.
Bruce Hastilow, a Delaware County resident, was a passing motorist at the scene and was involved in the impromptu cleanup effort.
“I just took my kids to Mount Vernon to school,” said Hastilow, whose four sons attend the Seventh-day Adventist Academy. “I took them up and I was on my way home; a lady flagged me down right in this intersection.”
The woman who flagged down Hastilow was Mardissa Thorpe, one of the first motorists on the scene. Thorpe, a Delaware County area bus driver, was heading northbound on Ohio 61. She was also gathering up loose nails.
“I don’t know,” said Thorpe of how the nails got in the roadway. “I was just driving the bus home and I saw traffic stopped, so I stopped and got out.”
Also picking up nails was motorist and Knox County resident Colleen Parshall, who was traveling on Ohio 656 south when she heeded a warning.
“Somebody was across the road from us and we stopped at the stop sign and she held up some nails and said, ‘They’re nails,’ so we stopped,” explained Parshall.
Delaware County Resident Carolyn Heffelfinger arrived at the scene several minutes after the cleanup was under way. She stepped out of her car to join in the group effort.
“When I saw it was nails, I decided not to go across [the intersection,]” she said.
A Delaware County Sheriff’s vehicle arrived on the scene at approximately 8:57 a.m., just as the last of the nails were being swept, kicked and carried from the roadway. There was no word on the source of the nail spill.