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Safety council honors mail carrier hours before milk truck wrecks Hempfield home

| Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, 10:54 p.m.
Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review
Extensive damage shows on the exterior of a house along Stone Church Road in Hempfield on Feb. 28, 2014, a day after a truck carrying 6,000 gallons of milk slammed into it.

Mail carrier Laura Trout of Hempfield was all smiles on Thursday morning when she was inducted into the Million Mile Club for 30 years of accident-free driving for the Greensburg Post Office.

Hours later, Trout and her husband, Scott, were in their kitchen when a tanker truck carrying 6,000 gallons of unprocessed milk careened off Stone Church Road and crashed into the front of the house, narrowly missing the couple.

“She's fine and lucky to be alive,” said her sister, Sue Trout of Greensburg. “They were probably standing about 5 feet away” from where the truck struck at 4:15 p.m. and overturned, spilling its load of milk into the house.

The house will have to be demolished, Sue Trout said on Friday afternoon. Laura and Scott Trout are staying with relatives.

“They've got some decisions to make,” Sue Trout said. “She's more worried about the (trucking) people.”

State police are investigating the cause of the crash. An accident report was not available on Friday.

The driver of the truck, owned by Farmeries Trucking Inc. in Hempfield, was treated for minor injuries at the scene. A person who answered the phone at the company on Friday declined to comment.

Most of the spilled milk “went into the basement of the home,” Department of Environmental Protection spokesman John Poister said. “The trucking company is always responsible for any kind of a cleanup after an accident.”

The milk that spilled outside froze, Poister said, and a small amount seeped into a nearby tributary of Jack's Run. The fast-moving waters in the stream diluted the milk, and an inspector saw no negative effects on wildlife, he said.

“It was determined that there was no environmental threat,” he said.

Any foreign liquid introduced into a waterway “can upset the balance of the (ecology) in the stream,” Poister said. “A high concentration of milk could possibly cut off oxygen to fish.”

Farmeries Trucking reported no accidents in the past two years, according to an online report by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

A lawsuit naming the company as a defendant is pending in Westmoreland County in connection with a December 2010 crash in which a company driver allegedly fell asleep on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The plaintiff's vehicle was pushed into the disabled Farmeries truck by another tractor-trailer, the suit claims.

The Million Mile Club award to professional drivers was given to Laura Trout and nine other Greensburg Post Office mail carriers by the National Safety Council.

“She was very excited to win the award,” Sue Trout said.

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or rsignorini@tribweb.com.

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