Two troopers separately spotted the car but weren't able to catch or keep up with it before the crash Thursday night near Fremont, about 40 miles southeast of Toledo, said Staff Lt. Anne Ralston, a patrol spokeswoman.
Other drivers began calling dispatchers about the speeding, weaving vehicle just before 7 p.m., about 20 minutes before it crashed into the back of the minivan. The driver covered roughly 60 miles in that time and passed two troopers, each of whom tried to pull behind the westbound car but lost sight of it as it sped away, Ralston said.
"Just because it was going so fast, we were never able to get into a position where we were actually engaged in a pursuit with it," Ralston said. "We were simply trying to catch up and intercept this vehicle and get it stopped."
The driver, a 24-year-old Kent man, suffered injuries that are not life-threatening and was hospitalized for psychiatric evaluation at a Toledo hospital, Ralston said. She said the man had spoken with investigators, but she declined to comment on what he said or whether he offered any explanation for the erratic driving that was reported.
She said investigators had discussed the case with prosecutors but no charges were immediately filed.
Investigators said the fires caused severe damage and they couldn't immediately tell if any of the people in the vehicles were wearing seat belts. The names of the two who died were being withheld until their identities could be confirmed and their families could be notified.
The speeding vehicle stunned some holiday travelers who witnessed it.
Josh Pickett of Toledo told The Toledo Blade that he was headed home from Thanksgiving dinner with relatives in Cleveland when the speeding driver passed him, followed about a minute later by a state police cruiser.
"I was going 76, and the guy passes me like I was standing still," Pickett told the newspaper.
He said within a few minutes, traffic suddenly stopped "and I saw really big flames."
Ty Mahaffey told The Blade a car zoomed by him "at an enormously high rate of speed. ... I have never seen a passenger car going so fast."
The Toledo resident said he was going around 80 mph "and when he passed me, it was like I was going in reverse." He said afterward he had to pull over briefly to collect himself.
The turnpike's westbound lanes were closed for several hours but reopened early Friday.
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