Two people were killed Monday in a motorcycle crash on a closed section of Interstate 76, Akron police said.

The bodies of a 41-year-old man and 32-year-old woman were discovered around 6:50 a.m. as construction crews returned to work on the Kenmore leg of the highway in southwest Akron.

The westbound lanes of the interstate have been closed to all traffic since late July for a pavement and bridge project, so it's unclear why the motorcycle was driving on the highway. Police said speed was a contributing factor in the crash, which likely occurred sometime after midnight.

A Harley-Davidson Road Glide motorcycle discovered at the scene had struck an excavator parked on the highway.

The names of the victims have not been released. Neither was wearing a helmet, police said.

Capt. David Laughlin said it's the third crash on the closed highway in about the last week. Another motorcyclist involved in a previous crash was injured, while a pickup truck was damaged when the driver entered the closed section.

"We're really not sure why or how it's happening," Laughlin said.

Both entrances to the highway — from southbound Interstate 77 and westbound/northbound I-76/77 — are blocked by orange barrels and barricades with "Road closed" signs.

Ohio Department of Transportation spokesman Justin Chesnic said officials aren't sure if the motorcyclists who were killed moved the barricades or went around them.

"Everything is closed," he said. "It's very clearly marked. There are closure signs everywhere."

ODOT has cameras in the area, but they didn't capture the motorcycle entering the area or crashing, Chesnic added.

The highway work is part of a $25 million construction project that includes widening I-76 in Akron and Barberton, rebuilding the I-76/State Street interchange and repaving state Route 619. The I-76 eastbound lanes of the Kenmore leg, which runs north and south, will be closed for about 45 days after the westbound work is complete.

 

Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or rarmon@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @armonrickABJ.