A male driver of a Ford Windstar mini-van remains in critical condition today after a raised boom truck carrying concrete blocks pulled down multiple wires and poles yesterday at the intersection of SR443 and SR309, at the bottom of the Ridge Cup.
One pole fell onto the front windshield of the van, which was traveling south on SR309.
"A boom truck (a flatbed vehicle with a mounted extendable crane) was traveling north on West Penn Pike (SR309) just before 11:45 a.m. when the arm of the truck's crane snagged multiple utility wires that run across the road," said West Penn Township Police Sergeant Melissa Boyer. "It was like a Domino effect. When one pole snapped, others followed."
The incident snapped at least three poles, one of which was a high tension line, and resulted in about a dozen utility lines laying across SR309.
"Sadly, the man was in the wrong place at the wrong time," said Boyer regarding the mini-van driver.
Boyer said the injured man was trapped in his van for about 45 minutes until rescue personnel could safely enter the scene. After being freed, the man was transported via ambulance to PennSTAR 5 helicopter, which landed at the West Penn Fire Company. He was flown to St. Luke's Hospital University in Fountain Hill in critical condition.
Boyer added that a female passenger was also trapped in the van and later transported to St. Luke's Hospital in Coaldale for unknown injuries.
In addition, two other vehicles became caught up in the fallen wires and their passengers were told to remain in their vehicles until power was turned off. One was Kate Wehr of Andreas, who was driving a 2008 Ford F150.
The driver of the boom truck, owned by Fleetwood Building Block Inc. of Fleetwood, was identified as Mark Eisenhard of Gilbertsville. Eisenhard was also transported to St. Luke's Hospital in Coaldale for unknown injuries.
The incident resulted in the closure and detour of both the north and south bound lanes of SR309 at the intersection for over six hours as utility crews worked to clean up the mess, replace lines and poles and restore services.
PPL's website stated that only two customers were without power during the incident.
The names and conditions of the injured driver and passenger of the van were not released by police as of press time today. Boyer said she is still investigating.
On scene were firefighters from West Penn, Tamaqua, Hometown, New Tripoli and New Ringgold. Also responding were Tamaqua Rescue Squad, Penn Mahoning Ambulance and Lehighton Ambulance.
Fire police volunteers from Tamaqua, West Penn, Hometown and New Tripoli detoured traffic around the half mile section of SR309.