Monroeville man critically injured after crash in construction zone
A Monroeville, Allegheny County, man critically injured in a three-vehicle collision Wednesday morning on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in North Huntingdon Township apparently did not realize he was coming upon a construction zone with lane restrictions, authorities said.
State police at New Stanton said 56-year-old Ven Kataramiah Srinikas was driving a 1991 Mercury Tracer eastbound near milepost 66.1, where a maintenance crew from the Harrison City facility had the left lane closed for line painting. A message board indicating the lane closure was posted one-half mile before the crash scene, police said.
The driver apparently failed to see the 1990 Ford single-axle dump truck stopped in the left lane with an arrow board directing traffic to the right lane and “struck the turnpike truck with no evasive action,” state police reported.
Srinikas’ vehicle then spun into a 2002 Mack truck with a double trailer driven by Gerard E. Roberson, 53, of Columbiana, Ohio, which was traveling in the right lane.
Srinikas was flown by medical helicopter to Mercy Hospital of Pittsburgh, Uptown, where he was listed in critical condition.
Harrison City fire Chief Bill Hobaugh said his department responded to the accident at 9:02 a.m. in the eastbound lane, just west of the Irwin interchange and extricated the victim from the car.
He said the driver was conscious when he was flown to Pittsburgh.
Frank Rocco, 37, of Scottdale, who was operating the turnpike truck, was taken by Irwin Ambulance Service to an area hospital to be examined, but he didn’t appear to be badly injured, Hobaugh said.
“He was shaken up,” the chief said.
Rescue personnel from Harrison City and Irwin were on the scene for more than an hour to clear the accident site, causing considerable traffic congestion. Hobaugh said he was proud of the speedy response and rescue despite the heavy traffic conditions.
“We got in there quick and got (the victim) out quick. There was a good deal of backlog on the road,” Hobaugh said.
A dispatcher at the state police station in New Stanton said the turnpike was opened completely at 10:40 a.m.
Turnpike spokesman Joe Agnello said construction zone accidents are not unusual, but this was the first serious accident in the region this year.
“This was a routine maintenance task that’s known as a rolling closure with a caravan of trucks. Unfortunately, these types of accidents aren’t that rare. We’d like to see them become more rare, but sometimes people just don’t pay attention,” he said.
An accident between the Butler Valley and Cranberry exits claimed the life of a road worker last year, Agnello said. “We had a fatal accident last year involving a contractor who was picking up a mobile arrow sign when he was struck and killed.”
Police did not indicate whether any charges would be filed in yesterday’s accident.