WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Ohio State Highway Patrol has concluded that the accident that killed a Warren Scoutmaster two weeks ago was likely caused by the tread peeling off his right rear tire.
The tire tracks leading from State Route 11 to the median told only a part of the story of what happened around 7:15 on Saturday morning, August 5 just north of Route 87 in Trumbull County.
Jim Potjunas, 61, was killed in the crash. He was the well-liked and longtime Scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 101 in Warren.
“Frankly, I’ve never met a better Scoutmaster ever,” said Ned Gold, with Great Trail Council.
An accident reconstruction report released by Highway Patrol placed the blame on “the tread having peeled off the right rear tire.” It was a Firestone tire and the code on it suggested it was made in Mexico in 2008.
The report stated the tread on the separated tread belt appeared in good condition, the rubber appeared like new, the inner sidewall appeared in good condition, and there were no signs of punctures.
According to the report, another right rear tire on the car failed about a month before the deadly crash in the same way — by the tread separating from the tire carcass.
The vehicle itself was a 1999 Chevy Suburban owned by the Troop 101 Alumni Association.
The report did not state how many miles were on the Suburban but that it recently had the rear axle and front ball joints replaced, along with a new fuel tank installed.
Potjunas’ wife, Sandra — who was not seriously hurt — also gave a statement about what happened.
She said, “I heard a noise — a bang or pop — and the vehicle started swerving. Jim tried to correct it and couldn’t. We went into the median and Jim still couldn’t correct it. We rolled over a couple times and I was hanging upside down.”
Also in the vehicle were five Boy Scouts aged 13 to 17, who were also okay.
Everyone had a seat belt on.