SALEM TOWNSHIP, Pa. — A tractor-trailer driver is facing charges in connection with a seven-vehicle pileup Tuesday on U.S. Route 22 in Salem Township, Westmoreland County, that left one person dead and two hurt, police said.
The accident occurred Tuesday just after noon on Route 22 near state Route 66.
“I heard (a) truck lock up its brakes, and then I heard a crash,” witness Joe Tatters told Channel 11 News.
Tatters said he was working near Route 22 when the crash happened.%
“He was just plowing through. There was no stopping him, and I got to this big concrete pillar where the lamppost used to be on,” he said.
According to witnesses, the tractor-trailer ran a red light and plowed into a pickup truck that was towing a trailer full of landscaping supplies, causing a chain reaction crash.
The man in the pickup was trapped, and emergency crews took nearly an hour to cut him out of the vehicle. First responders said the man was in and out of consciousness.
“It took a while,” Forbes Road Fire Department Assistant Chief Steven Rosatti, said. “He was in pretty bad shape.”
The man, identified Wednesday as 67-year-old Albert Tomasino of Jeannette, was flown to UPMC Presbyterian Hospital, where he later died. Neighbors told Channel 11 News that Tomasino leaves behind a wife, who is battling a serious illness herself, and two children.
Two others were taken to hospitals by ambulance, Channel 11’s Gordon Loesch reported. Their names or conditions have not yet been released.
State police spent hours reconstructing the accident, shutting down Route 22 to try to determine who was at fault.
More than six hours after the crash, Route 22 reopened just before 6:30 p.m.
The driver of the tractor-trailer, Cruz Guzman-Nieves, 26, was charged Wednesday with homicide by vehicle, careless driving and speeding.%
Guzman-Nieves told investigators that the truck does not have an engine brake, and he was unable to slow it down by gearing down.
Police said he had stopped to check the brakes because they were smoking about 50 minutes before the crash, but after 35 minutes, he continued to drive the truck.
Cox Media Group