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Two men injured when garbage truck, tractor-trailer collide in Wellersburg

July 5, 2018

WELLERSBURG — For the 10th time in four years, a commercial vehicle accident occurred on Route 160 south into Wellersburg.

Only this time instead of a lone tractor-trailer crashing or a tractor-trailer smashing into a church, a garbage truck and a tractor-trailer collided at 8:16 a.m. Tuesday.

The loaded garbage truck lost its brakes and appeared to hit a guardrail before flipping onto its passenger side. The truck traveled down the hill sideways before sliding into the back of the tractor-trailer, according to state police.

Two men, the driver and the passenger of the Reese garbage truck, were flown from the accident. A third man, the driver of the tractor-trailer, was not injured.

The extraction of the two men was lengthy, said Keith Sturtz, assistant chief for the Wellersburg Volunteer Fire Department. He was one of the first at the scene. Meyersdale Volunteer Fire Department brought its ladder truck to help hoist the men out of the garbage truck, he said.

The crushed cab of the garbage truck had to be removed to get the men out, he said. It took about an hour and a half to get the passenger out, he said.

The extent of the two men’s injuries was not quantified, but Trooper Jeremy Lischak said it appeared as though the driver sustained serious injuries and the passenger sustained life-threatening ones.

The injured men’s names were not released by police to allow them time to notify the men’s families, he said.

Sturtz has been assistant chief for 10 years and has been on the scene of most of the accidents on Route 160 near Wellersburg.

“Personally, this is the worst I’ve seen,” he said. “Most people from the other accidents walked away with mostly minor injuries.”

A new truck pull off that can accommodate up to five trucks will be finished at the top of the hill by the end of the year, Sturtz said. The municipalities have obtained a state grant to build it in hopes of stopping brake-related accidents.

Until then, he said, “all the trucks need to pull off and check their brakes at the top (of the hill) so they will already be in low gear.”

Both lanes of Route 160 were blocked for several hours at Palo Alto Road, a few miles from the crash site in Wellersburg Borough.

The Somerset County hazmat team was called because diesel fuel was leaking from one of the trucks. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation was busy cleaning the roadway.

On April 4, 2017, the driver of a Freightliner truck lost control of the vehicle while rounding a curve and struck the Mt. Harmony United Methodist Church along Route 160 in Wellersburg. No one was inside the church at the time. The driver suffered minor injuries.

On June 13 a tractor-trailer rolled down a 15-foot embankment along Route 160 near the borough, spilling its load of corn.

State police and the Wellersburg fire department were also assisted Tuesday by the Meyersdale, Corriganville and Mount Savage fire departments, Meyersdale and Mount Savage ambulance services, Maryland State Police and MedStar, according to Somerset County Control.

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