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Trucker helps prevent further injury to motorist

| Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2002

EVERSON - A trucker's heroic move prevented further injury to a motorist Monday. Heavy skid marks on Route 119 northbound are visible where Anthony Ohler swerved his gravel truck to avoid striking a car traveling in the wrong direction.

At 12:25 p.m., a southbound Ford Tempo, operated by Steve Kooser of Bullskin Township, crossed the median a half-mile from the Everson exit and entered the left northbound lane, striking a tractor-trailer operated by Russell Bittner Jr., 55, of Jeannette.

A northbound tri-axle filled with gravel, operated by Ohler, 50, of Normalville, swerved to avoid hitting Kooser as the Ford entered the right lane. The truck overbalanced and skidded on its side, blocking both lanes but striking no vehicles in the process.

"I was going northbound in the outside lane a truck length and a half behind the trailer the car bounced off of," said Ohler, an employee of McNair Coal Company, Connellsville. "All of a sudden he came into my lane, and the only thing I could do was swerve and keep from hitting him. I swerved to take the median to get by him. Otherwise, he would have ended up underneath me."

Kooser's vehicle ran off the roadway along the east berm, striking an embankment before coming to rest in the middle of the northbound lanes facing west.

STAT MedEvac flew Kooser to UPMC Presbyterian Hospital, where was listed in critical condition Monday night. The hospital would not given an updated condition this morning. Neither truck driver was injured, according to state police at Uniontown.

Connellsville Township volunteer firemen re-routed northbound traffic to Richey Road as PennDOT crews removed the spilled gravel. Diamond Towing of Mount Pleasant righted Ohler's truck for towing. Bullskin Township and Everson firemen assisted at the scene.

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