Two people died Thursday morning when a speeding tractor-trailer driver lost control of his rig on U.S. Route 30 west of Schellsburg and crossed into oncoming traffic, state police in Bedford said.
The eastbound Freightliner crossed a double yellow line in Juniata Township at around 8:07 a.m. and struck a westbound Chevrolet Silverado, then crashed into a guide rail, according to a crash report issued Thursday evening.
The trailer, which was fully loaded with vegetable oil, went over the rail and down the embankment, but the tractor slid sideways along the roadway and struck a westbound Jeep Cherokee. The tractor overrode the Jeep, peeling its windshield and roof backwards and causing it to catch fire, then continued over the embankment.
The Freightliner driver, a 50-year-old man from Cincinnati, and the Jeep driver, a 67-year-old man from Bedford, were pronounced dead at the scene. Their names were redacted from the crash report and will not be released until their families can be notified, Bedford County Coroner Rusty Styer said.
The speed limit for trucks is 20 mph in the downhill section of highway where the crash took place, and witnesses reported that the Freightliner was “traveling at a greater speed than reasonable for this section of roadway,” according to the crash report.
Both parts of the tractor-trailer unit broke into multiple pieces that were scattered throughout the woods on the embankment. Police said crews will be working along that section of the highway for the next few days to clean up the debris.
The two occupants of the Silverado, a 52-year-old man from Six Mile Run and a 28-year-old man from Hopewell, sustained minor injuries and were taken to UPMC Somerset for treatment.