YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The man involved in a deadly police chase on Interstate 680 in Youngstown on Thursday had run from police before and was convicted after a 2001 chase killed an innocent person.
Forty-seven-year-old Steven Mango, of Hanoverton, was the driver in a deadly crash at Midlothian Boulevard and Youngstown Poland Road in February 16 years ago. His car hit two other cars, killing Phillip Swatner, of Struthers.
Mango was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and eluding police and was sentenced to 13 years in prison.
He was wanted by police for robbing three Boardman businesses at the time of the 2001 crash.
Mango also skipped out on a sentencing hearing Wednesday in connection with a theft-related conviction. He pleaded “guilty” to being the getaway driver in a purse snatching last year in Boardman and could have faced up to a year in prison.
On Thursday, Mango died in a high-speed chase on I-680 Thursday after the car he was driving hit a semi truck.
Pam Gretsinger realizes the scene from 2001 could have played out again and said she’s lucky to be alive.
“I just missed being killed and I know it would’ve been a bad accident.”
Police said Mango robbed the Dollar Tree on Mahoning Avenue in Austintown Thursday morning before leading officers on the chase that stretched over 15 miles.Watch: High-speed chase ends in fatal crash on Interstate 680
It began in Austintown and officers from multiple police departments followed Mango all the way to the Ohio Turnpike in Beaver Township. Mango then turned around at the turnpike entrance and headed back toward Youngstown.
At one point, he was driving the wrong way on I-680 — headed north in the southbound lane.
While Gretsinger was out picking up lunch for her coworkers, she saw a truck driving straight toward her.
“He didn’t veer, he didn’t go another direction, he just steadied the course straight,” Gretsinger said. “Right where I was, it was going to be head-on. We were wheel to wheel. It would’ve been a dead hit.”Watch: Witness – “Here we were, looking to get hit”
Mango clipped a semi and while it took a bit of damage, police said the semi driver wasn’t badly injured.
“Fortunately, I wasn’t hit but driving down the road, I realize how close it had come,” Gretsinger said.
The crash shut down I-680 south for over eight hours, forcing drivers to get off at the Market Street exit. The highway has since reopened.
“We have to take some accurate measurements out here. We are going to have to reconstruct this crash and at that point in time, we will get the road reopened,” said Youngstown Police Lt. William Ross.
There was another accident on 680, which happened after the road closure. The six-vehicle pileup happened shortly after noon in the southbound lanes of the freeway near the Market Street exits.
Despite all the damage, state troopers said no one was badly hurt. At this point, the report is not complete and no charges have been filed.