An elderly man died when his pickup truck and a tractor-trailer rig collided last night in Schuylkill County. State police at Schuylkill Haven said the crash occurred at the intersection of SR61 and Manheim Road, in North Manheim Township, about 8:03 p.m.
Troopers said James G. Hochgertel, 81, of 82 Hickory St., Schuylkill Haven, attempted to turn left from southbound 61 onto Manheim Road and failed to see the rig traveling northbound in the right lane. Troopers said Hochgertel turned his 1999 Ford Ranger pickup directly into the path of the 2005 Freightliner operated by James M. Kenyon, 59, of 107 Green Rd., North Woodstock, Conn.
The front end of the rig impacted with the front quarter panel of the passenger side of the pickup, troopers said. After impact the Ford spun counter-clockwise as its momentum caused it to travel across both the north and southbound lanes before coming to rest in a parking lot just off the west side of the road.
After impact the rig continued in a northeast direction and over a curb before striking a traffic light standard. Impact with the curb and light standard caused significant damage to the tractor and also caused the truck to leak a quantity of diesel fuel onto the grass and down into a water holding area, troopers said. The leak required a response from an area hazmat team and notification of the state Department of Environmental Protection.
Troopers said Hochgertel was pronounced dead at the scene by deputy coroner Joseph Pothering. Troopers added that Hochgertel was not wearing a seat belt.
Kenyon, who was wearing a seat belt, sustained a minor injury to a hand.
Troopers said SR61 was closed for four hours for the investigation and cleanup of the area.