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Train hits semi, derails in Bell Township

| Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013, 8:48 a.m.
Eric Felack, Valley News Dispatch
Bell Township firefighters and Westmoreland County Haz-Mat team members respond to the scene of a Norfolk Southern train and tractor-trailer collision in Salina, Bell Township, on Tuesday morning, Feb. 5, 2013. Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
Eric Felack, Valley News Dispatch
Bell Township firefighters and Westmoreland County Haz-Mat team members respond to the scene of a Norfolk Southern train and tractor-trailer collision in Salina, Bell Township, on Tuesday morning, Feb. 5, 2013. Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
Eric Felack, Valley News Dispatch
Bell Township firefighters, Westmoreland County Haz-Mat team members and railroad officials respond to the scene of a Norfolk Southern train and tractor-trailer collision in Salina, Bell Township, on Tuesday morning, Feb. 5, 2013. Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch

Officials say the tractor-trailer truck driver en route to Avonmore was turning his rig around across railroad tracks when the trailer was struck by a train in Salina, Bell Township, early Tuesday.

No one was seriously injured.

But the crash caused three Norfolk Southern rail engines and three cars to derail near a railroad bridge, leading the company to redirect rail traffic.

The truck driver suffered a head injury, and another person required treatment, but no one else was reported hurt in the 7:30 a.m. incident. Norfolk Southern police were investigating with assistance from state police.

The driver wasn't immediately identified, and his medical condition remained unknown.

Officials said the driver's GPS may not have been updated. The road he was on once led into Avonmore.

Norfolk Southern spokesman David Pidgeon said the train was eastbound from Montpelier, Ohio, on its way to Harrisonburg, Va. He declined to say what the train was hauling.

Pidgeon said the crash area has a 30-mph speed limit for trains, but it wasn't immediately known how fast the train was moving.

Spill cleaned up

Westmoreland County Public Safety spokesman Dan Stevens said the wreck emptied a 55-gallon drum of xylene. Much of the cleaning chemical was contained by the snow on the ground and firefighters rapidly cleaned up the remainder, Stevens said.Records show that the truck driver, driving for the Brenntag company at Reading, was scheduled to make a delivery in Avonmore.

Stevens said it appears the driver was following GPS directions into Avonmore. The road he was on no longer accesses the borough. β€œHis GPS may not have been updated,” Stevens said.

Pidgeon said the derailed cars were upright and a contractor was being sent to Salina to get the cars back on the track.

He declined to describe the rerouting or delays that the wreck had caused.The Federal Rail Administration sent inspectors to Salina.

A spokesman said the FRA has records for train and vehicle crashes at railroad crossings, but the non-crossing crash was termed β€œvery unusual.”

Chuck Biedka is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4711 or cbiedka@tribweb.com.

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