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1 killed in Route 31 crash in East Huntingdon

| Saturday, July 19, 2014, 6:12 p.m.
Liz Zemba I Tribune-Review
Firefighters work the scene of an accident that claimed the life of Brendan Walter, 18, of Tarrs, July 19 on Route 31 near Zemba Lane in East Huntingdon Township.

An 18-year-old man died when a car and a dump truck collided about 4:50 p.m. Saturday in East Huntingdon.

Brendan J. Walter of East Huntingdon was pronounced dead at the scene with multiple blunt-force injuries at 6:19 p.m. at 1296 Route 31 near Zemba Lane, according to Kenneth Bacha, Westmoreland County coroner.

Walter was the driver and lone occupant of the car, which failed to negotiate a slight curve in the road, according to the report.

A 2014 Southmoreland graduate, Walter played soccer for the district, said Chris Hixson, head boys soccer coach.

“As a soccer player on the field, he played with heart, physical and determined,” he said. “Fun kid. You could have fun with him, he'd push you a little to see how you'd react, then you could have fun with him.”

Hixson said Walter's two older brothers and one younger brother also were soccer players, and his mother often helped the team.

“I feel for her,” he said. “She's a super mom, very active in her kids' lives.”

He said the team had 10 seniors graduate in 2014.

“It's going to be a tough time,” Hixson said. “All the guys who graduated were pretty close.”

A state trooper at the scene said the silver Honda Civic was traveling west on Route 31 when the driver traveled into the eastbound lane, where it was hit on the passenger side by an eastbound dump truck.

Speed is believed to be a factor in the crash, and Walter was not wearing a seat belt, according to the coroner.

Mark Harper said he was working in a garage next to his home on Route 31 when he heard two cars pass by at high speed.

“I heard the cars racing up through here,” Harper said. “Then all I heard was a bang.”

Harper said the passenger car was split in two.

The front wheel of the car and part of the engine came to rest about 50 feet from the rest of the car, with the dump truck on top of the car's trunk.

“I just heard what sounded like an explosion,” said Harriet Carolen, who was in her house nearby. “When I turned around and looked out the window, car parts were flying through the air. I knew it was bad; the car was split in half.”

Crews from Mt. Pleasant and Scottdale volunteer fire departments responded, along with an ambulance and state police.

Stacey Federoff and Liz Zemba are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Federoff can be reached at 724-836-6660 or sfederoff@tribweb.com. Zemba can be reached at 412-601-2166 or lzemba@tribweb.com.

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