Snow-covered roads lead to crashes
By MIA LIGHT (Staff Writer)
ELLEN O’CONNELL/Staff Photographer The driver of a tanker truck hauling fuel escaped injuries after sliding into a Jeep and pushing it into a loader that were both parked along Sugarloaf Heights Road during Wednesday’s snowstorm.
Area emergency responders were kept busy with numerous crashes caused by the treacherous travel conditions during Wednesday’s snowstorm.
In one incident, a home heating fuel delivery truck wrecked and leaked oil, prompting calls to hazardous materials crews for cleanup.
Another series of crashes closed a portion of Interstate 80 in one direction for several hours.
Sugarloaf Township Fire Company Chief Joshua Legg said the fuel delivery truck was traveling on Sugarloaf Heights Road approaching the intersection with Route 93 when the truck slid and crashed into an unoccupied Jeep. The Jeep was parked on the side of Sugarloaf Heights Road with a “For Sale” sign on it.
Legg said the fuel delivery truck slid on the slick roadway, struck the Jeep, and pushed the Jeep into an overhead loader parked nearby and also marked for sale.
The fuel delivery truck’s tank ruptured in the collision, causing about half of its fuel to spill onto the roadway. Legg said the truck held an estimated 12,000 to 15,000 gallons of fuel, and about 600 to 750 gallons spilled.
Emergency responders built a dam to contain the leaking fuel until a hazardous material cleanup crew from Datom Products Inc., Dunmore, arrived at the scene to pump the remaining fuel out of the tank and clean up the spill on the roadway.
The Jeep was extensively damaged and would later be towed from the scene, Legg said. State police were working to identify and notify the owner of the Jeep and the loader.
A passenger in the fuel delivery truck was evaluated at the scene by Sugarloaf Ambulance personnel. There were no other injuries, Legg said.
Sugarloaf fire police manned a roadblock, which prevented vehicles from entering Sugarloaf Heights Road while the cleanup was under way. Detoured vehicles traveled south on Route 93 and took St. Johns Road to Old Airport Road to Hobbie Road, which intersects with Sugarloaf Heights Road in Butler Township.
About a half hour before that crash, emergency responders were dispatched to a one-car rollover accident near the iron bridge over Nescopeck Creek on Route 93, Legg said. He had no information available on the driver of the vehicle.
As travel became trickier at the height of the storm, traffic came to a standstill on Interstate 80, about a half-mile away from the fuel truck mishap.
Tractor-trailers that crashed in wintry conditions closed the eastbound lanes of Interstate 80 from Exit 242 (Mifflinville/Mainville) to Exit 256 (Conyngham/Nescopeck), according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
The jackknifed tractor-trailers were blocking the eastbound lanes at mile marker 249 and created a traffic backlog of about a half mile, PennDOT announced at around 7 p.m. The agency anticipated that the highway would reopen around 1 a.m. today.
Also because of tricky travel, PennDOT instituted a 45-mph speed limit on interstates 80 and 81 in eastern Pennsylvania. The speed restriction was to remain in effect until conditions improved, the agency said.
Snow began falling in the Hazleton area around 3 p.m. Wednesday and was expected to wind down by midnight, with snowfall totals in the area between 4 and 6 inches