Pair of plow mishaps perplexing to PennDOT
By Tom Fontaine
Published: Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
A PennDOT plow pushed snow and ice over a Mercer County bridge and smashed a car passing below on Dec. 29, the same day a similar incident occurred 25 miles away in neighboring Butler County.
“I've been in maintenance for 17 years and these two instances are the first times I remember hearing of vehicles being hit by snow falling off an overpass,” said Doug Schofield, maintenance service manager for PennDOT's District 1, which includes Mercer County.
Erin Waters-Trasatt, a spokeswoman at PennDOT's Harrisburg headquarters, said officials would “communicate with our staff as necessary moving forward. We are not aware of any widespread reports of these incidents.”
Brittany Steffanus, 19, of Jackson Center was driving along Route 173 in Wolf Creek when snow fell onto her car from an Interstate 80 bridge, her father Scott Steffanus said.
Steffanus said the impact of the snow and ice shattered the windshield and a passenger-side window and buckled the roof and hood, among other damage. His daughter was not injured and managed to drive her crumpled car 1½ miles home.
PennDOT, which is self-insured, offered Monday to settle the claim for $3,700, Steffanus said. He said value guidebooks put the worth of his daughter's 2003 Chevy Cavalier at $4,700 to $5,000. He said he's not sure if he'll appeal the matter to a local district court.
“I just want them to be fair about an obvious flaw in their protocol of plowing overpasses and pay for the damages,” Steffanus said.
Schofield said he wasn't involved in the settlement process, but did review the case from a maintenance standpoint. “We haven't changed our policy at all, but we are reiterating them and having safety talks with all our operators.”
Schofield said drivers are trained to plow snow to the side of a bridge until there is no more room on the shoulder, then crews are supposed to remove the built-up snow with a loader. He said it doesn't appear too much had built up in this case, adding, “For whatever reason, a big chunk of snow got caught on the wing (of the plow) and then kicked a certain way off the bridge.”
The same driver was not punished.
Also that day, a plow for PennDOT's District 10 pushed snow off a Route 19 bridge in Muddy Creek Township and onto an SUV traveling below on Route 422. Passenger Eric Williams, 39, of Cleveland, Miss., was treated for an eye injury at Jameson Health System in New Castle.
Tom Fontaine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7847 or email@example.com.
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.
- Western Psychiatric clinic rampage victim’s parents seek answers, lawyer says
- Newsmaker: Jack Goodrich
- Trib’s Hiel honored for reporting on Coptic Christians
- Suspect in East Liberty slayings may be part of murder-for-hire case
- Web of surveillance videos helps ensnare suspect in East Liberty slayings
- Donor name to be stripped from Penn Hills library
- Pittsburgh Mayor Peduto set to meet with UPMC chief
- Mon River project to get boost, according to Army Corps of Engineers
- Historical markers approved for 21 sites around Pennsylvania