Washington County

‘Grateful to be alive’: Trucker who survived rollover crash on overpass shares story with Channel 11

SOUTH STRABANE TOWNSHIP, Pa. — A trucker who lost control of his rig before a rollover crash left the tractor-trailer dangling from an overpass in Washington County is sharing his story with Channel 11.

The tractor-trailer was about five stories above ground as it hung from an I-79 overpass.

>>> PHOTOS: Tractor-trailer hangs from overpass in Washington County

“I rolled it for a long time, I was thinking it was maybe going to fall off, but luckily it didn’t,” said the driver, Kostas Hobitakis.

Hobitakis walked away with just a few scratches. His only injury was his to his elbow after using it to escape.

“So, after it was done I just thought, ‘Quickly, get out of here.’ I was hanging, I unbuckled it and just fell to the floor,” he said. “There was no way I could reach the top door, bottom door, the only thing was the windshield, so I rammed into it a couple times and got out.”

The accident shut down traffic in every direction for hours as first responders and tow truck crews rushed in.

Hobitakis said there were multiple factors that played a role in the crash, including his heavy load: 40,000 pounds of cardboard that crashed to the ground.

He insists speed wasn’t a factor.

“I was going the speed limit, I was going the speed limit,” Hobitakis said. “In my head as this was happening, as I was coming down the hill, I am slowing down. The load was really heavy. Coming down, that specific bridge if you cross the line over, it goes downward, so the thing is, my tire went into that and you just get sucked in. I rolled it for a long time. I was thinking it was maybe going to fall off, but luckily it didn’t.”

Hobitakis, who is from Chicago and started driving trucks three years ago, said it’s a miracle that he survived.

“It was a miracle. I have on my dash Jesus, Mary and the saints, and then when they lifted up the truck, under all the rubble between the truck and the rubble, was my baptismal saint and icon, not scratched, not nothing. To me, He protected me from not going over,” Hobitakis said.

State police told Channel 11 they believe speed played a factor but they are still investigating. Hobitakis was cited for failing to properly negotiate a left turn.

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