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I-70 closed in Rostraver Township after truck crash

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By Rick Bruni
Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013, 9:45 a.m.

No one was injured after a tanker truck reportedly lost its brakes and hurtled over a cement barrier along Interstate 70 in Rostraver Township, causing an oncoming tractor-trailer to crash into the same barrier.

The driver of a tanker truck carrying sand told state police he was traveling approximately 35 mph down the ramp from Route 51 North onto Interstate 70 East just after 1:30 a.m. when the brakes failed.

The unidentified driver, who is from Erie, said he tried pulling parallel with Interstate 70 to avoid striking the cement barrier head-on. That's when the truck rolled over the barrier and into the left westbound lane, flipping onto its roof.

“The engine brake stopped and I started picking up speed and I couldn't stop,” the driver said. “I looked left to make sure nobody was coming because I knew I wasn't stopping.

“So I came down and tried to keep a hold of her the best I could and this was the end result. The brakes were on and then they went off like something else took over.”

According to state police Trooper Andre Stenson, that driver was climbing out of his toppled truck when a tractor-trailer carrying milk along Interstate 70 West swerved to avoid him and smashed into the barrier about 100 feet away.

Both drivers refused medical treatment and appeared unharmed. Stenson said police would inspect the tanker truck and its braking system on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, I-70 West was closed and traffic diverted onto Route 981 via the Smithton exit. Westmoreland County Hazardous Material crews arrived soon after and began removing diesel fuel from both trucks.

Firefighters from Rostraver Central volunteer fire department assisted with cleaning the spilled fuel.

Lines of tractor-trailers and other vehicles sat idle from the accident scene back to the Smithton exit.

Rick Bruni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2635 or



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