Passenger says Jason Schaller saved his life in deadly crash on I-275

Driver killed in wreck near Kilby Road
Posted at 7:01 PM, Dec 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-12 19:26:13-05

CINCINNATI - Selfless. 

That’s the single word family and friends use to describe the Cincinnati man killed in a crash with a semi this weekend.

The passenger in that crash says he owes his life to his friend.

Jason Schaller, 35, drove Interstate 275 in Whitewater Township often, but he could not have foreseen the danger awaiting him about 2 a.m. Sunday near Kilby Road.

 “A semi truck came, I believe, across the median,” said Schaller's passenger, Jesse Crabtree, 30. “Honestly, it’s still a blur for me now. I’ve been trying to piece that together.”

According to investigators, the driver of the southbound semi failed to negotiate a curve and managed to cross the grassy median into the path of Schaller and Crabtree.

“He tried to veer out of the way and just told me to hold on," Crabtree said. "Somehow I’m fine — thanks to him, obviously. He saved my life.”

Unfortunately, Schaller died at the scene. Crabtree said Schaller's selflessness was his defining characteristic.

“If someone needed something, Jason would always do whatever he could for them,” Crabtree said.

Schaller leaves his fiancee and two young kids. His mother called him the glue of the family.

“Time to start moving on without him and we just don’t know how that’s gonna be," his mother said.

The family says they’re working to continue Jason's home-grown business, Schaller Electric, in hopes of keeping his memory alive.

“He was very good at what he did and very good at everything else he did."

RELATED: Semitrailer driver charged in fatal crash on I-275

The semi driver, Angeson Abreha, 31, of Denver, has been jailed and faces vehicular manslaughter charges.

The crash site has no median barriers, and Ohio Department of Transportation specialists are examining it to see if barriers should be installed.  ODOT specialists say they often look at factors like recurring accidents, width of median, traffic volume, and sight distance issues.

"Ideally we would like to have nothing in the right of ways because a lot of times people can correct a situation and there’s no bad outcome that occurs,” said ODOT spokesperson Brian Cunningham.