Lower Burrell crash injures 9 teens, including 4 airlifted for treatment
Nine teenagers were injured, some seriously, when a sport utility vehicle overturned about 1:40 p.m. Saturday on Dutchman Run Road in Lower Burrell, police and fire officials said.
Five occupants of the vehicle were ejected. Police said three of the nine who were in the Ford Explorer were girls and the rest were boys, and all ranged in age from 14 to 17.
Most if not all were students in Burrell School District. None was immediately identified, and authorities said they hadn't determined where they were traveling from or to.
The SUV was traveling east toward Route 780 when it abruptly left the winding, brush-lined two-lane road, hit an embankment and flipped once, police said. Authorities haven't determined whether speed played a role in the crash.
Lower Burrell Patrolman Steve Aulerich said at a news conference Saturday evening that injuries ranged from moderate to serious. A Ford Explorer has seat belts for seven, he said.
The road reopened around 7:20 p.m. Saturday. Dutchman Run Road was closed after the crash so a state police accident reconstruction crew could carry out its investigation.
Dozens of ambulance crews from as far away as Murrysville and area firefighters joined Lower Burrell, Upper Burrell and New Kensington police in the rush to the overturned vehicle.
In the minutes after the crash, Aulerich and Patrolman Ken Smail found some of the youths outside the vehicle. Four were flown by helicopter to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC with injuries.
Aulerich said the crash is under investigation.
“There were so many paramedics here that they hurried up, treated and transported patients right away,” he said.
Helicopters landed at Penn State New Kensington along Route 780 and in the Kinloch section of Lower Burrell.
Ambulances took one other patient to Children's Hospital and two each to Forbes Regional Hospital and Allegheny Valley Hospital, according to a Westmoreland County dispatch supervisor.
Don and Karen Myers live about 150 yards from the crash site.
“We heard it. We heard the crash,” Don Myers said.
Afterward, the couple heard people calling for help.
Lower Burrell Mayor Richard Callender sent his prayers and best wishes. “I probably know some of the teens and the parents,” he said.
The school district issued a statement: “On behalf of Burrell School District, our prayers go out to the families and students involved,” district Superintendent Shannon Wagoner said.
School board member Deborah Kinosz said she was saddened at news of the accident.
Chuck Biedka and Jeff Himler are Tribune-Review staff writers. Reach Biedka at 724-226-4711, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @ChuckBiedka. Reach Himler at 724-836-6622, email@example.com or via Twitter @jhimler_news.