Boys die in wreck blamed on icy roads
Icy roadways from light rain in Butler County surprised morning motorists on Wednesday, causing a crash that killed two children and resulted in dozens of other wrecks despite above-freezing temperatures.
Road crews were unprepared but tried to respond quickly to conditions forecasters said they could not recall occurring here in decades.
Liam Bintrim, 3, and Declan McCullough, who would have turned 1 on Friday, were crushed by the roof of their mother's car when it slid and rolled on an icy Connoquenessing Township road and slammed into a tree.
“By far this was the most tragic (accident) of the day,” said state police Lt. Eric Hermick.
Hermick said he believes the boys, strapped into car seats, died instantly.
Their mother, Elisabeth McCullough, 32, of Harmony, suffered minor injuries in the crash on Lower Harmony Road, about five miles from the family's home.
Brad Rehak, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Moon, said he had not seen similar conditions in 24 years.
“Temperatures overnight were about 15 degrees and may have dipped into single digits in some areas north of Pittsburgh, so the rain that fell turned to ice when it hit the ground,” Rehak said.
Hermick said state police received 42 reported accidents in the county within a 15-minute period.
Hermick blamed ice for McCullough's accident about 10:30 a.m. “We believe this was a pure incident beyond her control.”
Butler County's 911 center reported 39 wrecks between 10 a.m. and noon, handled by state troopers and municipal police departments.
Several people went to hospitals, dispatchers said, though their conditions were unavailable.
Several vehicles hit guardrails or cars along Bull Creek Road in Fawn. No one was injured in the crashes, which were caused by ice, according to Fawn police Chief Tim Mayberry said.
In West Deer, a car flipped over at Middle Road near Route 910 about 10 a.m., but no one was reported to have been injured.
Seven other West Deer crashes happened along Route 910 at Cedar Ridge, two at Oak Road and several at Bakerstown Road — all between 10 to 10:30 a.m.
“Fortunately, no one was hurt,” Lape said. “It seemed to hit here all at once.”
In Winfield, two tractor-trailer trailers were disabled and blocked part of Cornplanter Road, state police said.
Caught off guard
Robert Skrak, manager of PennDOT's office that covers Butler County, said the weather caught crews off guard.
“We were monitoring the temperature very closely this morning, then all of a sudden we started getting reports from state police about icing conditions on area roadways,” Skrak said.
Skrak said thermometers on PennDOT vehicles recorded air temperatures of about 39 degrees and road surface temperatures averaging 37 degrees.
When the rain began, the road surface temperatures dropped into the 20s, he said.
“We sent salt trucks as fast as we could and (the salt) quickly took care of the problem, but not before there were vehicles sliding all over the place,” Skrak said.
Truck with explosives
A construction truck carrying explosive materials along Route 422 in Butler Township slid off the road shortly after 10 a.m., police said.
The box truck was loaded with about 300 pounds of ammonium nitrate fertilizer pellets, 200 gallons of diesel fuel, and TNT and blasting caps heading to a demolition site, said Butler Township police Officer Alan Morris.
Authorities removed the materials from the truck and cleaned up spilled fertilizer pellets before pulling the truck up from the hillside, Morris said.
Hermick said a Butler Township police officer was slightly hurt when a PennDOT truck hit his cruiser at Routes 422 and 68.
Bill Vidonic and Tony LaRussa are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Vidonic can be reached at 412-380-5621 or email@example.com. LaRussa can be reached at 412-320-7987 or firstname.lastname@example.org. VND staff writer contributed to this report.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Filming for Cinemax TV series to divert traffic in Allegheny Township
- FirstEnergy halfway into 72-day, $60 million upgrade of Springdale facility
- Driver of pickup truck dies following crash into New Kensington house
- Gas industry, rural character top Winfield candidates’ list
- Leechburg man held for trial in fatal wreck
- Indiana Township couple face illegal prescription charges
- CMU astronomer lectures to Highlands students about space in pilot program
- Driver allegedly disrupts fire scene in Kiski Township
- Buffalo Township supervisors challenged in primary
- Inaction means New Kensington-Arnold superintendent likely will keep job
- Boscov’s could help sustain decade-old Pittsburgh Mills