Snowy, wind-blown conditions contributed to a 50-car pile-up on Interstate 90 near Erie, PA, last week that included 22 tractor trailers.
The accident killed one truck driver moments after he got out of his cab, and left another driver dangling above a 200-foot gorge.
Terry Nagel, 43, got out of his truck and was quickly slammed into by another tractor-trailer, killing him at the scene.
Driver Ron Hall was traveling eastbound and swerved to avoid a rental van that was wedged between two tractor-trailers. Hall’s truck hit a bridge wall and his cab dangled over the edge of the bridge.
Photos of the scene show the cab’s back end hanging over the air and the truck’s doors resting on the bridge’s concrete walls.
“He was a couple of feet from death unless he grew wings,” Sgt. Frank Cini of the Pennsylvania State Police told Land Line.
Hall watched a stranger approach his truck, smash in the windshield and pull him to safety before walking away.
Heavy snow and wind created a white-out situation that severely limited visibility, Cini said.
In 21 years of service, Cini said he’d never seen an accident involving so many trucks.
“It was remarkable that only one person got killed – it was really a pretty horrific event,” Cini said. “I’ve never seen so many darn tractor trailers sideways and right-side up … I’d say most of the tractor-trailers were damaged beyond repair.”
Hall told the Meadville Tribune the accident and his near-death experience moved him to tears.
“Last night, one person won $250 million in a lottery,” Hall said. “Today, I tell you, I am luckier than that person because some man put his own life in serious jeopardy just to save mine.”
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