A deadly tractor-trailor crash on the Pennsylvania Turnpike at about noon Wednesday shut down all eastbound lanes between the Bedford and Breezewood exits for nearly seven hours, putting traffic at a standstill for miles.
State police at Everett on Thursday released details into what they’ve determined happened to cause the two tractor-trailers to crash.
According to police, one tractor-trailer was traveling east in the right lane on Interstate 76, near mile marker 157.9, and the other was traveling in the same area in the left lane, as it tried to pass the other tractor-trailer while negotiating a left curve.
While attempting to pass, the driver lost control of his vehicle and struck the tractor-trailer in the right lane, causing both to travel off the right shoulder after impact, police said.
The tractor-trailer that was struck went up an embankment and subsequently rolled over.
The other tractor-trailer traveled through a guide rail, down an embankment, crashed into a culvert and caught fire. The tractor-trailer was fully engulfed when rescue crews arrived on scene.
The driver of the tractor-trailer that had caught fire was pronounced dead on the scene by Bedford County Coroner Rusty Styver. The names of the drivers have not yet been released.
Bedford, Everett and Breezewood fire companies, Raystown EMS, Bedford County EMA, turnpike Maintenance, Interstate towing and McCutcheon’s Hazmat also responded to the scene.
Response to the situation was “tricky,” Pa. Turnpike spokesman Carl DeFebo said on Twitter, as the crash was complicated by its location on a steep hillside, the size of the fire, the multiple vehicles and the fatality.
The scene was cleared and all detours lifted by 6:40 p.m. Wednesday, according to Pa. Turnpike Alerts.
“Kudos to all involved!” DeFebo tweeted.