Community grapples with tragic death of Connellsville boy in turnpike crash
Minutes after leaving a Pennsylvania Turnpike maintenance shed Thursday with his young son as part of a take-your-child-to-work day, a Fayette County man drove his truck into the back of a tractor trailer along the toll road in Mt. Pleasant Township.
Hayden M. Field, 11, of Connellsville Township died at the scene. Harvey “Denny” Field, 49, was seriously injured.
“We believe that Harvey had taken a day off to show his son — who also was off school for the day — where he works,” said Rosanne Placey, a spokeswoman for the Turnpike Commission.
Thursday was National Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day.
Field has worked at the turnpike’s Donegal maintenance facility since July 2011. In February, the turnpike recognized Field on its Facebook page for “above-and-beyond” service he provided a motorist stranded with a flat tire.
On Friday, grief counselors visited Connellsville Area Middle School to help students and staff cope with the death of their sixth-grade classmate.
Superintendent Joseph Bradley said the crisis-response team informed students, their families and staff members of Hayden’s death.
“Counselors are and will be available to talk to students in the classrooms and with individual children,” he said in a statement. “District counselors along with counselors specially trained in grief, death and mourning will be present as long as needed to assist both children and staff with the feelings they are experiencing.”
The crash occurred in the turnpike’s eastbound lanes at 2 p.m. Thursday. State police said Field was driving near mile marker 86 when for “unknown reasons” his pickup hit the rear of a tractor-trailer that was traveling slowly in the right lane. The pickup came to rest under the rear of the trailer in the area of “S” curves.
The tractor-trailer driver, Barry Abdoulie, 36, of North Dakota, was not hurt, police said.
Hayden was pronounced dead at the scene. An autopsy was performed Friday. His cause and manner of death is pending toxicology results.
Brooks Funeral Homes in Connellsville is handling arrangements.
Field was taken by medical helicopter to UPMC Presbyterian. His condition was not available.
Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Renatta at 724-837-5374, [email protected] or via Twitter .