Crash on Pennsylvania Turnpike leads to person stuck in tree

MT. PLEASANT TWP., Pa. — A crash on the Pennsylvania Turnpike led to a man being ejected and stuck in a tree.

Crews responded to the eastbound lanes of the turnpike in Mount Pleasant Township around 9 p.m. Monday.

According to Westmoreland County dispatch reports, the vehicle went 30 feet over an embankment. Crews used Brush Creek Road to reach the man, who was stuck in the tree.

Crews rappelled over the hillside to rescue him. He was taken by ambulance to an undisclosed area trauma center, but remarkably didn’t appear to be seriously injured.

It was a call that was the first of its kind for Mount Pleasant Fire Chief Jerry Lucia.

“Normally when you’re called on the turnpike, there’s a vehicle accident with entrapment, and those are tough because you have to tear the car apart. This here was a unique situation, we were all dumbfounded by it,” he said.

In his 45 years of responding to accidents and crashes, Lucia and his firefighters have never had a rescue quite like this one. They had to look up last night to find and rescue the driver who crashed over a hillside and was thrown from his car.

“He held on, when he was in the tree, he grabbed two branches and held onto them and wouldn’t (let) go of them until we were bringing him down out,” Lucia said.

As rescue crews prepared for the laborious rescue using a stokes basket, ladders and ropes, a medic climbed up the tree to check the vitals and identify any possible injuries to the 71-year-old driver.

The chief says where this happened isn’t typically a troublesome spot for turnpike accidents, leaving first responders all the more puzzled as to how it happened.

“Where this situation happened was a straightaway and I don’t know how he lost control of his vehicle, but he did and that’s what ended up (happening) because he was in the tree, but the car was 30-40 feet down over the hill farther,” Lucia said.