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Freak accident kills 1 on I-70

| Friday, May 13, 2005

A day trip to a Washington County auto auction turned tragic for a Hempfield Township family when a freak traffic accident on Interstate 70 late Thursday morning claimed the life of a father, while sparing his son from injury.

State police at Washington said Robert J. Zeglin, 59, of 506 Westland Drive, Wendover, was killed when the drive shaft from a dump truck traveling in the opposite direction dislodged, crossed the jersey barrier, then flew through Zeglin's windshield and struck him in the head.

Zeglin, who was traveling with his 23-year-old son, Robert Jr., was driving westbound in a Dodge van near the Kammerer exit, in Somerset Township, when he was hit by the shaft from the eastbound truck.

Zeglin was transported to Washington Hospital, where he was pronounced dead in the emergency room at 11:42 a.m.

Washington County Coroner Tim Warco listed the cause of death as blunt force trauma to the head. The manner of death was listed as accidental.

Police identified the driver of the 1981 Mack dump truck as Derek D. Armbrust, no age given, of Greensburg. The truck he was operating was owned by R.A. Monzo Construction, of Latrobe.

Police did not indicate Armbrust suffered any injuries.

Zeglin's sister, Joanne Mellott, of Greensburg, said last night her nephew had only a scratch on his arm but was traumatized by witnessing his father's death.

"He said he will never forget seeing the truck ... looking like it was exploding. Then he looked over at his dad, and he was covered in blood. It was a horrible, horrible tragedy," she said. "We're all in shock."

She said her brother was an organ donor and that the family had complied with his wishes.

Mellott said her brother was very close to his family. He and his wife, Barbara, celebrated their 33rd wedding anniversary in March.

In addition to Robert, a student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, the couple have two daughters; Elizabeth, who lives in Cairo, Egypt, where she teaches art at the American International School; and Sarah, who recently graduated from the University of Pittsburgh.

"He truly loved and enjoyed his family very much. We all loved him. I only lived five miles from him. We got together often," she said,

Mellott said Zeglin stayed close with his daughter, Elizabeth, despite their distance. "They talked on the phone and e-mailed each other every day," she said.

Zeglin was a self-employed salesman who enjoyed visiting flea markets. He served in the U.S. Army and was a member of the honor guard, Mellott said.

Zeglin also is survived by a younger brother, Donald, who lives in Beltsville, Md., as well as nieces and nephews.

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