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PLEASANTVILLE, PA – A deadly truck accident Monday morning, May 10, 2010, on a highway in Bedford County, Pennsylvania killed two truck drivers and shut down the highway for hours. The collision, which included a total of five vehicles, occurred on Route 56 in West Saint Claire Township near Pleasantville, and forced several families from their homes. The truck accident area is in the far south-west section of the state, about 40 miles south of Altoona, PA and 45 miles north of Cumberland, Maryland.

The impact of the rear-end truck accident crushed the back of the van and sent it across the interstate and into a ditch at the side of the highway.

The multi vehicle truck accident began at around 6:30 a.m. Monday morning when a 2000 Sterling semi trailer truck hauling a cargo of ice cream was coming down Pleasantville Mountain traveling east on Route 56 about two miles west of the intersection of Route 96, Pleasantville. Route 56 is locally known as Quaker Valley Road. The truck was driven by 40 year old Jeffrey Fonner of Folcroft, Delaware.

As the trailer truck was taking a curve on the highway the driver lost control and hit the back of a Pontiac Grand Am driven by 20 year old Nathan D. Vogel of Johnstown, PA. The impact of the rear-end collision shoved the Pontiac into the westbound lanes of Route 56.


After hitting the Pontiac the Sterling 18 wheeler began to tip over and rolled into the westbound lanes of Route 56 where it was slammed into by a 2006 International tanker truck driven by 41 year old Joseph Knouse of Fort Ashby, West Virginia. The tanker truck is owned by Linde Company based in Murray Hills, New Jersey and was carrying carbon dioxide to the Pepsi Plant in Richland Township.

The force of the truck accident separated the tanker from the cab and sent the tank section crashing over a guardrail and down the edge of the steep 75 foot embankment at the side of the highway.

The first semi truck, which set off the chain reaction accident, hit two more vehicles after colliding with the trailer truck and at one point the truck driver was ejected from the cab. The two cars hit were a 2005 Chevrolet Cavalier driven by Mary A. Kauffman, 51, of Osterburg, PA and a 2003 Suzuki Vitara driven by Stanley Fickes of Imler, PA. Both vehicles were damaged by the collisions.

Alum Bank Community Fire Company and emergency personal rushed to the scene of the truck accident and were assisted by personnel from four other local fire departments. The two truck drivers suffered fatal injuries in the multiple collisions and both died at the scene.

The driver of the Pontiac, Mr. Vogel, sustained injuries in the truck accident as did Ms. Kauffmann, the driver of the Chevy Cavalier. Both victims were trapped in their vehicles and had to be extricated by rescue teams. Once free they were medically airlifted to Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown. The driver of the Suzuki, Mr. Fickes and his passenger David R. Fickes were not hurt in the multi-vehicle collision.


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When the tanker section of the second truck went over the embankment it landed on its side near a tree. The impact damaged the tank and some of the dangerous carbon dioxide escaped from the tanker. Officials with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection responded to the truck accident site and officials evacuated four homes in the immediate vicinity of the crashed tanker truck.

The truck accident left a considerable amount of debris and disabled vehicles on the highway, leading authorities to shut down the traffic lanes for most of the day so highway crews could clear the wreckage. The semi truck hauling ice cream also lost most of its cargo and hundreds of cartons had to be cleared from the roadway before it was safe for travel. The ice cream made the road surface slick and some cartons fell down the highway embankment.

Route 56 was closed for more than 12 hours while the crews worked and officials reconstructed the truck accident. The highway was shut down between the juncture with Route 96 in Pleasantville to the juncture with Route 160 in Windber, PA. The lanes were finally reopened Monday evening however according to Bedford County Emergency authorities the lanes would be reclosed at around 9:00 a.m. Tuesday morning so crews could continue their work.

Investigators believe speed may have been a factor, and the driver hauling the load of ice cream may have been going too fast down Pleasanton Mountain.

For more information about Pennsylvania trucking laws, truck injury causes and victims rights, contact a nationwide truck accident attorney at Gordon, Elias & Seely, LLP for expert advice. For a free initial consultation, talk to a PA truck accident lawyer at 800.773.6770.

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