Illinois tractor-trailer driver charged in Route 22 crash that killed Jeannette man
A Jeannette man was identified Wednesday as the victim in an eight-vehicle crash on Route 22 in Salem Township, and the Illinois driver of a tractor-trailer that struck his pickup truck has been charged with homicide by vehicle.
The Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office confirmed that Albert Tomasino, 67, died shortly after 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Firefighters worked for nearly an hour to free Tomasino from his truck, after the tractor-trailer driven by Cruz Humberto Guzman Nieves, 26, of Streamwood, Ill., slammed into the truck just before noon, pushing it into a concrete lamppost base.
Tomasino was taken to UPMC Presbyterian Hospital where he died, according to Forbes Road Assistant Fire Chief Steve Rosatti.
Guzman Nieves has been charged by state police with homicide by vehicle, aggravated assault by vehicle, failure to stop at a red light, speeding and careless driving, according to court records.
Guzman Nieves told investigators he saw the traffic light turn both yellow and red and attempted to slow down but couldn't, according to the criminal complaint filed with District Judge Charles Conway.
“(He) related that when (the light) turned red he tried to gear down the truck and did not want to brake because the brakes were already hot,” the complaint states. “(Guzman Nieves) said that he checked the brakes about 60 minutes ago and stopped for approximately 35 minutes because they were smoking.”
One witness told police Guzman Nieve's tractor-trailer swerved, ran over the highway median and fishtailed through the Mark Drive and Route 22 intersection before hitting Tomasino's truck, according to court documents.
The same stretch of highway was the location of a similar crash that injured three people nearly a year ago. A westbound tractor-trailer hit a car near Mark Drive, and airborne crash debris struck a road construction worker setting up signs. The tractor-trailer careened across the median, its cab pushing a pickup into several vehicles at the Victory auto dealer on the east side of the highway. Firefighters had to extricate the driver from the pickup.
PennDOT Safety Press Officer Jay Ofsanik said that as with any fatal accident, the agency's traffic unit will examine the details of the crash.
“What were the causes, what were circumstances of the crash?” Ofsanik said. “We're always looking at possibilities in the area of safety. If a crash had serious or multiple injuries, that would prompt our unit to take a look.”
Guzman Nieves is in the Westmoreland County Prison on $500,000 bail. He faces a June 28 preliminary hearing in District Judge Charles Conway's court.
Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer.