Big rig hit by train in Cheswick, bounced into apartment wall
No one was hurt when a Norfolk Southern train hit the rear of a tractor trailer in Cheswick, sending the big rig skidding sideways into the front wall of a man’s apartment.
David Woods said he was asleep at about 4 p.m. Friday when he heard a commotion outside his residence along the rear of Pittsburgh Street in Cheswick.
The racket was from a Norfolk Southern train clipping the rear of a tractor-trailer truck.
Railroad officials said the train was headed eastbound en route to Enola.
“The train crew sounded the train’s horn and put the train in braking, but could not avoid striking the tractor trailer,” Norfolk spokeswoman Rachel McDonnell Bradshaw said via email Friday evening. “At Norfolk Southern, the safety of our employees and the communities we serve is our number one priority. (We) advise motorists and pedestrians to stay alert around railroad tracks, and to be mindful of all warning signs and signals at railroad crossings.”
The front of the train, which was traveling toward New Kensington, stopped about a mile down the tracks.
Springdale police Chief Mike Naviglia said the tractor-trailer truck pulled in front of the train at a marked, flat dirt road crossing at the Watercrest Business Park.
The crossing has a sign with reflector and railroad crossing symbol, but not a crossing arm that comes down when a train is passing through.
Viktar Melekn, 45, who has an Illinois driver’s license, was driving a big rig for IG Transportation, with three U.S. addresses, pulling two trailers. Melekn, of Belarus, had unloaded pallets at a business inside the park, Naviglia said.
The rear trailer, which was empty under a blue tarp and frame, was hit in the back by the train. That twisted the trailer, and causing it to slam sideways into the facade of Woods’ apartment at 1001 Pittsburgh St. rear, at the front of the business park. In the aftermath, the tarp and aluminum framing were left leaning against the building.
Terry’s Towing employees used a torch to cut off part of the trailer so that the big rig could be hauled away after an investigation is completed.
Police, firefighters and Melekn were waiting for Norfolk Southern and other officials to investigate.
It was unclear if it was safe for Woods to use his residence.
Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chuck at 724-226-4711, [email protected] or via Twitter .