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Greensburg driver dies in Rt. 66 crash

| Sunday, May 25, 2003

WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP: A Greensburg man was killed Saturday when his Ford Thunderbird crashed head-on into a tractor-trailer truck on Route 66.

Larry D. Ward, who turned 64 Saturday, was pronounced dead shortly after the 11:30 a.m. crash.

The wreck closed busy Route 66 for almost five hours. Firefighters detoured traffic onto nearby Paradise Drive.

"It's one of the worst ones I've ever seen," said Township Police Chief Scott Slagle.

The speed limit is 55 mph. on this stretch of the highway, and Ward's Thunderbird was much lighter than the tractor-trailer. The tractor-trailer was even heavier because it was hauling construction equipment as it drove north, in the direction of Apollo.

Police still don't know why Ward, who was heading toward Greensburg, crossed into the oncoming traffic lane.

His Thunderbird left no tire skid marks, so police likely won't be able to determine his speed, Slagle said.

"Several witnesses said he crossed the center line," Slagle said. "They said he was swerving before that, too."

Westmoreland County Coroner officials drew blood from Ward's body, but it is not known when blood-alcohol results will be available, Slagle said.

The tractor-trailer's two occupants, both Washington Township residents, were hospitalized but otherwise alert and conscious after the accident, Slagle said.

The driver, Bill Jenkins of Route 366, was flown to UPMC Presbyterian hospital in Pittsburgh where he was listed between serious and fair condition Saturday, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

The passenger, Dave Hails of Crook's Road, reportedly was taken to Westmoreland Regional Hospital. A hospital spokeswoman said she had no one listed by that name Saturday evening.

This is the second highway death and the fifth serious car accident in the township this year, Slagle said.

After Saturday's accident, Westmoreland County hazardous materials handlers contained a minor fuel leak before it could flow into a storm drain, Slagle said.

Firefighters who cleared the site represented the companies of Washington Township, Sardis, White Valley and Oklahoma. The ambulance companies of Oklahoma and Mutual Aid assisted.

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