MIDDLESEX TOWNSHIP, Pa. — A pickup truck driver was killed Tuesday morning after colliding with a Pennsylvania State Police SUV in Middlesex Township, Butler County, police said.
Joseph Hufnagel, 47, of Butler was ejected from the truck and died at the scene, police said.
His family told Channel 11 he was a veteran and a brand new grandfather who would never intentionally crash into the trooper he hit.
The accident was reported shortly before 6:30 a.m. on Route 228.
Police said Hufnagel was traveling east around a curve between Davis Road and Orchard Lane when the truck veered into oncoming traffic. The truck crashed head-on into the SUV of an on-duty trooper, who suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
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“He was actually heading to his first assignment of the day,” Trooper James Long said.
"I'm more in shock and numb from everything," said Tonia Montgomery, Joe Hufnagel's older sister. His brother, John, was only a few cars behind when it happened.
"At the time I wasn't 100 percent sure it was my brother's truck. It looked like it," John Hufnagel said. "I called him and texted and he never answered."
Hufnagel was a volunteer firefighter until recently.
He served seven tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, and was in the Army for 22 years.
His daughter followed in his footsteps, also serving her country.
Police aren't sure if speed or weather factored into the crash. Investigators spent hours taking measurements and pictures to try to reconstruct what happened.
Hufnagel's family said he had been working full-time and going to school full-time so he could have fallen asleep at the wheel.
This part of Route 288 is known locally as "Balls Bend" and can see a lot of traffic, especially in the morning.
"At this time of day, 228 is busy," Long said. "It's between Route 19 and Route 8, so vehicles do travel quickly whenever they can, but being that it was rush hour, there were probably a decent amount of vehicles on the road."
Funeral services will be later this week. The family has setup a GoFundMe account here.
Cox Media Group