1 Killed, 2 Critically Injured In I-79 Crash

FRANKLIN PARK (KDKA) — Pennsylvania State Police say a car traveling north on Interstate 79 crossed the median, went airborne and crashed head-on into an SUV coming the other way Wednesday afternoon.

Inside the SUV was a mother and child. The impact of the crash sent the SUV off the road and down a hill.

Corporal Kevin Brown says a female passenger in the car was killed. She has been identified by authorities as 52-year-old Diane Spuntak of Mars.

“The vehicle was traveling northbound, for some reason crossed over the center median, when it exited the center median it became airborne, [and] struck another vehicle that was traveling southbound,” said Cpl Brown.

He said the driver of the car and the driver of the SUV were both critically injured. The 7-week-old child, who had been properly placed in a child safety seat, was not hurt.

Officials have identified the driver of the car as 58-year-old James McGuigan. The woman driving the SUV has been identified as 25-year-old Brennda Halbedl.

Traffic on Interstate 79 was backed up for hours on Wednesday as police funneled three lanes into one just south of the Wexford exit.

Accident re-constructionists are trying to determine why the car crossed the median.

McGuigan, of Mars, and Halbedl, Of Oakdale, were both taken to Allegheny General Hospital for treatment.

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One Comment

  1. Debi Aronson Fisher says:

    so sad ……………

    1. bobbie says:

      everyone needs to slow down and pay attention…get off the cell phones…put the food away..be cautious..others lives are at stake…how sad for the families especially with it being a holiday and the warm weather is coming and eveyone was looking foward to it.i was on 79 south a couple weeks ago…everyone was zipping past us like a racing video game..only t was reall life..it was quite unnerving i felt l like i was picking up the future event…

      1. tom says:

        Way to judge without all the facts yet. For all we know it could be mechanical problems, seizure, heart attack, road issue or one of the causes you mention. In general, YES drivers shouldn’t be destracted, but in this incident we still don’t know the facts.

      2. hwright says:

        bobbie you are absolutely right. Not only on 79 are people just driving like this but also on interstate 70 tailgating weaving in and out of lanes at 70 mph with no signaling. I see people on cell phones and also texting while driving. Tom she is not judging anybody. Bobbie is telling the facts and I back her 100%

  2. WSC says:

    It might have been my husband if he hadn’t had an emergency call for his job that delayed his travel through that area. So relieved it wasn’t him. So sad for the family of the person who _was_ involved.

    I know that area. I wonder if a wind gust between hills was involved.

    1. Michael says:

      wind gust? LOL! husband may have been involved? Just what type of medication are yo on any way?

    2. TMKI says:

      I understand what you were trying to convey with your statement. I lost my fiance several years ago and timming had everything to do with it, literally by minutes.
      I feel awful that such immature people would bother wasting their time making fun of how other people feel. Apparently they do not believe in karma.
      My thoughts are with all of the families that are involved.

  3. Unreal says:

    Lady you are so rude!!! To even post that! You are and awful person!

    1. Joe Black says:

      I have been trying really hard to find the lady who said something that was so rude…. I can only think you mean the, perhaps, stupid comment of WSC. It’s unrealistic to think that her husband would have been in that accident had he not been called to an emergency. But nevertheless, her comments are truthful, and I’m sure many think like her. She did say she feels sad for the family…not like she said “I don’t care that others died…just happy mine was safe.” Not even close.

      As for the slow drivers, stay to the right. It’s courtesy. It’s common sense. It’s the law if you are not passing. And if you are going slow, it’s very likely you are not passing.

      Big rigs? Safe? Really dude. I’ve driven all over the country and, while big rigs seem to have slowed down in recent years, they too often are going way to fast. They weave. They speed. They kill. Taking them off the road makes no sense though. Our economy depends upon the transportation of goods. What we could do, however, is to set the financial penalties high and strictly enforce the limits, then there would be a serious deterrence to reckless driving by them. As of now, there’s not much of an incentive.

    2. Linda says:

      I CAN’T believe you’d call WSC that nasty word! She is being honest and acknowleding how easily it could have been someone we know who travels that route daily! We’re all worried it could be someone we know. God, please take care of the family. I hope the road gets fixed to where we don’t have a discussion like this again.

      1. Michael says:

        Linda and Joe Black have joined the idiot club.

  4. Michelle Bimeal says:

    Two fatalities at that construction area in as many weeks…..when is PA DOT going to set that up so that it’s at least semi-safe?

    1. KW says:

      Agree completely! I live right there and I hold my breath going through during busy times.

    2. JAB says:

      The work area irrelevant to BOTH accidents!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    3. Shannon Platt says:

      I hope they do something!!!! This stretch is dangerous the way they have it right now because no one is enforcing the speed limit in the construction zone. If you don’t keep up with the speed of traffic, you’ll get run over by the semi barreling through the construstion area.

      I personally have told my family that if I get into an accident into this area, they better be sueing PENNDOT!!!

  5. Duh says:

    It could have been me too if I were driving through that area at that exact moment. You’re an idiot.

  6. JLS says:

    Thoughts and prayers to the families that are affected.

  7. NEM says:

    Every day I pray before traveling 79 South.or North. It is a speedway. I am the rare one who values my life and especially others. I drive speed limit. I would rather arrive to work or home late, than not at all. Where are the cops? Why aren’t they out there enforcing the speed limit? Very sad to see this terrible accident occur.

    1. ksuu says:

      Not the autobahn, there isn’t a such thing as a fast lane in this country it’s a passing lane. Although I agree with your premise. Too many are oblivious to this and just hang out and don’t overtake and then return to number 2 or three lanes after they are done. Not sure if this is because of distraction or contempt for other going faster or a combination of the two. This is why an autobahn type road would never work in the USA, not enough cooperation in drivers here.

    2. fly says:

      maybe the problem is individuals like you that don’t drive the speed limit!! IMO it’s people who are driving 85-90 mph on I79 dodging and weaving in and out of cars that cause the accidents.

      speed limits are set based on the road topography, average traffic and such, if people would just leave on time, slow down so many “accidents” could be provented.

      I’m not saying that’s what caused this accident

    3. Some People Are Clueless says:

      So, SWS, when the police officer pulls me over, I’ll just refer them to you under this story on KDKA website. I’ll let them know someone online said we have to go over the speed limit to keep up with traffic….if we dont we could kill someone or cause an accident. YEAH. DUMB.

  8. pitsws says:

    First off, it is Penn Dots fault, they should be working the construction around the clock, the traffic is horrible and its a major interstate. Thos e workers work maybe 6-7 hours a day, they coudl work 10 or have another crew come in after. It could have happened to anyone, prayers go out to those families. I do not think the lady above meant any harm…

    1. huh says:

      how is it Penn DOTs fault? If they didn’t fix the roads people would complain, if they are doing construction people complain. seriously, the police have not released the cause of todays accident, yesterdays was ruled to be due to excessive speed. this accident happened outside the construction zone. Since we don’t know what happened why point the blame? It could have been speed, it could have been someone having a heart attack or stroke while driving, it could have been drugs or alcohol…

  9. Trappedon79 says:

    Penn Dot should be held accountable for this entire scenario. This is the worst project plan I’ve ever seen and the absolutely worst construction zone ever un-managed. It is an extremely difficult drive and the slow pace is mind-numbing which is certainly a distraction for all drivers in both directions. It is contributory to these fatal accidents. Everyone, please exercise extreme caution while driving in this area and do all you can to keep alert. Drive defensively!

    1. GTCA says:

      How was that construction zone any factor in this accident, or the precious fatal accident a couple weeks ago? They didn’t happen in the construction area. This particular accident happened after the work zone on I79S.

      Instead of pointing fingers right away, just pray for these people.

  10. Jack says:

    Too many people thing like SWS – that is the problem

    1. TMKI says:

      I hate to break it to you but you have nothing to do with this tradgic occurance. I do not even understand why you feel the need to comment.

      1. IKMT says:

        Every time you comment you are rude to someone. Let people talk. It is a forum. May God be with the families. Now, what do you care to say that is rude to me?

      2. TMKI says:

        Have you read your comments? They are riiculous and they have nothing to do with the tradgic accident that occured. I feel as if I am responding to a highly uneducated person. There is no need for your response. You have obviously said enough on this forum.

  11. Madison says:

    Another accident caused by a tractor trailer. Those things have no business on the road! Wake up and ban this type of vehicle!

    1. Me says:

      Ok, well you can’t exactly take tractor trailers of the road….rather them choose residential routes that our children rides bikes in? No. Prayers for the victim and family, terribly sad.

    2. hwright says:

      thats pretty dumb wake up watch the road give them the space they need and they will not harm anyone. its when the idiot out that tailgate them cut in front of them and brake hard in front of them that causes the accident banning a tractor trailer truck is rediculous ban the idiot drivers out there that dont follow the rules

  12. Jack says:

    think like

  13. TLT says:

    Take the trucks off the road. What a moronic idea. I would rather be surrounded by rigs than most of the car drivers out there.

    1. KSC says:

      Madison you aren`t the brightest person are you ???? Take tractor trailers of the road is the most dumbest thing you could say….Who hauls medicail supplies, food, ect.and most likely everything you own..Quit blaming people that wasn`t even involved in the situation…It was a said situation so think about that..

  14. TLT says:

    Also, how would you get any products without rigs. Maybe you should change your.views.and become amish.

  15. 79drvr says:

    This accident didnt even happen around the construction site, it was after (south of) the wexford exit… nor was a tractor trailer involved. I think people should get their information correct before they start laying blame. This stretch of road has extremely high crosswinds. After driving this same route around noon, its very difficult to control your vehicle under these conditions. Speeding, which is the norm on I-79, had to be a contributing factor to this as well. State Police need to ENFORCE the speed limit.

  16. redrock100 says:

    Some people cant drive. Its that easy

  17. 79drvr2 says:

    PEOPLE – Quit blaming PennDOT. It is NOT PennDOT repairing the bridges. I don’t even work for them and I know that!

  18. Richard says:

    First and foremost, my condolences to the family of the person who lost their life in this tragic accident and my best wishes to anyone else involved/injured. My daily commute takes me both South/North on I-79 and I can honestly say there are a LOT of what I consider to be marginal drivers sharing the road. It runs the gamut from the very young with their invincible attitudes to the very old and somewhat infirm that should no longer be driving, at least on interstate highways. Lives wasted, so sad.

  19. BL says:

    I actually was about 15 car lengths in front of this accident and called 911. I saw the accident in my review mirror and knew that there had to have been a fatality. The part that concerns me is the fact that when we called 911 it took them 7 rings before they answered and the woman was rude and sounded supiscious of our call. I knew there would be serious injuries and just wanted help there as quick as possible. God bless the families involved.

    1. IK says:

      If you were 15 car lengths in front of the accident, then you were caller number 15 to 911. Be patient, they are dispatching the proper response vehicles.

      1. TMKI says:

        Do you really think that this is a respectful way to treat a tradgic accident as well as other people. Eveeryone faces death differently and no one should be criticized for that. I would like to think that you have something better to do with your time than go onto a comment area such as this and show such disrespect.

  20. Chum Chum says:

    It was a horriffic accident. My husband and I were headed north on 79 through that area just after the accident had occurred. We could see that one of the vehicles had been north bound when it left the roadway crossing the median, tearing up the grass before swerving into the south bound lanes where it struck the dark colored car then plowed into the hillside. There wasn’t and road construction or barrels in that area nor any strong winds either but traffic was heavy at the time of day as usual. Anyone driving on any of our highways know that there are those who are constantly changing lanes sometimes swerving two lanes just to get ahead. These aggressive drivers don’t value their own life much less the lives of others. My prayers go out to those involved in this accident and to their families.

    1. fly says:

      well said chum chum

  21. wifey1267 says:

    wow…lots of stupid comments which is just so disrespectful seeing as how the only thing important and worth saying anything about is the fact that a life was lost. God bless the woman who lost her life’s loved ones. I hope that all the others’ injuries heal quickly, but sadly the mental injury from this is going to live with them for a long time. I just wonder why the car crossed the median…how horrible. I’m going to be extra careful to hug and kiss my husband and daughter every time I leave them in the morning.

  22. Bob Kudzma says:

    It is not Penn Dot’s fault. Any of a number of factors could have played part in this tragic accident whether it was speed, medical, weather-related or whatever the case might be. The fact of the matter is that some family is now without a mother, daughter or sister & we should send our condolences & pray that everyone comes through. Accidents happen every day, if drivers would be courtous, obey the laws & focus on driving these types of things could be prevented but not everything is a guarantee in life so make the most of every day.

  23. MarsMan says:

    First, Pray for the families involved and a good recovery of the one peson in critical condition. While the accident may not have been in the construction zone it may have ultimately been a factor. As when people finally make it through the construction zone they fly afterwards to make up some time. The project is typical of PennDot: HORRIBLE PLANNING, HORRIBLE MGMT, & NOT COST EFFECTIVE. That project should be going 24/7 to get it done. It is worth the cost to work round the clock to get it done. At this rate it will take a year + to complete bottle necking traffic for months. The lanes are horrible and an accident waiting to happen. Sad story.

  24. Gone with the Wind says:

    That spot — that area — is haunted. So many lives have been lost in the past two years. Those who died in that area do not think it fare to die that soon. So they try to take others with them… Got to do sth. about that area to console those who lost lives there.

  25. Confused says:

    I just dont get why the car crossed the median. Where the accident was even at 4pm the spead you can go at that time in that area could not have been that fast. I travel this road every day for work. With the Construction in Wexford it is backed up there at 4pm. Yes wind is bad there but I just dont get how the speed of the car even if there was wind and there was all day could have resulted in her being pushed that way. As for the Construction I agree poor planning. Very poor, add the rubber necking with the Police car sitting there for no reason both directions add to the maddness. Bottom line is a life was lost and people were seriously hurt. Our thoughts should be with them and stop throwing stones when the cause is unclear.

  26. LLL says:

    i drive on both parts of 79 every day north and south, norht 79 is way worse than south but taking tractor trailers off the road is not going to solve the problem or complaining about the construction these are things that are part of life but some things people can change are for example setting their phone down while driving and paying attention while driving. Its really sad and unfair that someones life was taken away and each accident should be a lesson for all highway drivers to re access their driving when on the high way b/c we are warned about the construction sites coming up on the roads, and so if there is a plane accident do we say that there just shouldn’t be planes in the air anymore, no so we shouldn’t say we shouldn’t have tractor trailers on the road anymore, some one out there just like you are earning a living by driving that truck just like your earning a living driving your car to work on that road….

  27. ChevyGirl75 says:

    wow what a miracle that baby wasnt hurt much! someone was its lil angel.. so sad about the girl that died though and pray the other 2 are ok ! what a horrific accident . PRAYERS TO ALL

  28. Sherry Behr says:

    This was a terrible accident my prayers are with everyone involved. There is no need to point fingers, life is precious and in a split second it could be gone. So please stop the blame game and just pray for everyone involved.

  29. Michael says:

    I travel I79 everyday. The biggest problem with causes of accidents are the following:

    1. Not paying attention. Usually through the use of cell phones and texting. I still can’t believe how many people I see texting while driving.

    2. Extremely fast or slow drivers. Both are to blame. Too slow in the left lane is an accident waiting to happen just as the aggressive driver zipping in and out of lanes.

    Trucks are not the problem and neither is road construction.

    Take that to the bank.

    And to you idiots who believe wind is the cause of that accident, I can only laugh. It is called, HOLD THE WHEEL WITH BOTH HANDS and put the freekin cell phone DOWN and pay attention to the road. Idiots.

    1. 79drvr says:

      Very inappropriate to call people idiots. You don’t know the driving situations or the types of vehicles people have. You, Sir, show lack of intelligence and maturity when you talk like this.

  30. rebefnk2 says:

    First of all I would like to offer my condolences to the families involved in this horrible tragic accident. I was coming home from work on 79 N, when I paased this accident. The traffic was backed up before the merge point at Wexford on 79S and I was so irriated with once again being stuck in traffic. When I saw this accident, I was ashamed of being mad about the constant contruction jam I face everyday going this way, on top of my already hour commute to work and back. Pen Dot is not to blame for this accident, it was a freak accident where woman lost control of her car before the contruction zone. Who knows how it happened. I do blame Pen Dot or the people who decide to shut down two lanes on a major Highway for months on end at the same time. Why couldn’t one side be done at a time, instead of both at the same time? Why can’t they work around the clock or at least weekends to hurry this up?

    This was poor planning on their part and I face this hell everyday. All it takes is one accident and this road will be shut down for hours on end. People get cranky sitting in this mess watching their 4 dollar a gallon gas being sucked up by tryiing to get to work and back. Add to it the people that jump in front of you, because they want to hop lanes thinking one moves faster then the others..its is a recipe for disaster. Next time close one side at a time, so at least most of us daily commuters are not stuck both ways everyday.

    1. JUST-ME says:

      it was the male driver who lost control and hit the 25 yr old with the 7 week old baby .the woman who died was the passenger in the males car . just getting the story straight for ya .. and i agree total freak accident and the investigation is still ongoing .

  31. Observer from above says:

    Unfortunately these accidents are bound to happen. For whatever, reason this took place let us be thankful it wasn’t any worse.

    Stay alert, don’t be distracted by things that can wait, cellphones, etc.. if you are that irresponsible you won’t be careful for your own sake…………….

    Do if for the other innocent people and children out there.

  32. CRNB20 says:

    I am willing to bet it was a tire blowout causing the car to cut across the median. Center lane dividers (guardrails) may prevent this type of accident in the future. On I-35 in Dallas a similar accident occurred when a truck lost a tire, swerved into oncoming traffic killing 7. As a result, all of I-35 now has center lane dividers, even in through the grassy medians that civil engineers deem wide enough. Just food for thought.

    1. cj says:

      Yes, the center lane dividers are needed on this stretch of the highway. PennDOT installed them on 279 North (many people have been killed in a similar fashion along the parkway north) and now they need to install them on 79. This is so sad that this has been going on for years and nothing has been done about it.

  33. Hayden Maddi Martin says:

    I didnt see the actual accident but i saw it right after it happenned. This was so sad. I prayed a lot. This is one of the saddest things ever. The picture of the small car keeps popping up in my head. I was on my way to my cousins dress fitting in Wexford and i saw it on my way there…. Then on the way back we were in traffic for about an hour. It was very sad. But I have to remember God has a reason for everything he does. All i can do is pray for everyone in the accident and their family. If you saw the actual car…. you would be out of words. I know i was. i started tearing up and i almost cried. I just couldn’t stop thinking about what happenned and that it could have been anyone…. including me and everyone in the car i was in.

    1. TMKI says:

      I believe that you need to learn how to be appriopriate. This is not about what you believe it is about the families that were inolved.

  34. Haris says:

    The last 5 weeks Ive kept hearing about accidents on I79 Franklin Park and Wexford that have resulted in deaths? All of them?? Whats going on? This is real odd? I think 5-6 people have been killed there in the month

  35. Dawn says:

    When is Pennsylvania going to realize that guard rails need to be on 79. How many times now have people lost their lives due to a car going over the median and into the other lane?? I noticed in the Crafton/Carnegie area they have finally put up wires that would stop a car from crossing over to the other traffic. I am just praying that soon these will be up any place where a car can lose control and end up on the other side of the median. This happen to me a few years ago and I was very blessed that I was not hurt, but iit seems like alot of people have been hurt and killed by this. I will keep this family in my prayers. This is a very sad story and I hope that someday soon things will be changed so this doesn’t have to happen.

    1. cj says:

      Yes Dawn, you are correct. They installed these on 279 North and they are badly needed on 79.

  36. lek says:

    While this was a terrible accident and someone lost their life. May God be with their families. We should also remember and pray for the miracle that the baby was uninjured. That is truely a miracle. May the others who were injured recover quickly as well.

    1. Michael says:

      It was no miracle that the baby wasn’t hurt, It was science and the laws of physics.

      1. miracles are real says:

        Sorry, but I disagree. Other accidents have happened with similar “physics” and children have not survived.

      2. TMKI says:

        I did not realize that you were so well educated, philosopher? What is your grade level?

      3. IKMT says:

        TMKI, leave people alone. Are you the all knowing manager of all records, ideas, thoughts? Leave people alone. This again is a form and these people can say what they want. Just because they do not agree with you, doesnt mean they are less of a person. You appear to need to make others feel bad in order to feel better about yourself. May God be with these families and also soften your heart towards others.

  37. Rules are your Friend says:

    PA Drivers Manual… Chapter 3: “Crashes often happen when some drivers go faster or slower than other vehicles on the road. Always try to drive
    with the flow of traffic within the posted speed limit.”

    PA Vehicle Code… Chapter 33: “(d) Driving in right lane.–
    (1) Except as provided in paragraph (2) and unless
    otherwise posted, upon all limited access highways having two
    or more lanes for traffic moving in the same direction, all
    vehicles shall be driven in the right-hand lanes when
    available for traffic except when any of the following
    conditions exist:
    (i) When overtaking and passing another vehicle
    proceeding in the same direction.
    (ii) When traveling at a speed greater than the
    traffic flow.
    (iii) When moving left to allow traffic to merge.”

  38. cj says:

    First of all, we still do not know what caused this accident (and may never know why the blue car crossed the center median). What I do know is this accident could have been minimized if PennDOT would finally add a guide rail to the center median (like they did with 279 North). I’ve lived in the Wexford area for over seven years now and witnessed at least five or more of these types of accidents (car crosses center median and hits another head on). We need to start a campaign to end these types of accidents along this stretch of the highway before more people are killed or injured.

  39. Michael says:

    miracles are real,

    You must be the editor of this page and it is a shame that you don’t allow opposing views to be equally distributed.

  40. Lindsey says:

    Brenna Matt and Elisabeth, we are praying for your family. Sending lots of love to you all.

  41. Barb says:

    God bless the families. I agree that it is a miracle that the baby is ok!! Even though seats are in properly that does not always guarantee that the child will not get hurt! Think about how many things are flying through the air in a crash–what are the odds that NOTHING hits the baby!! I passed through on North 79 about the time of the accident and the traffic was BAD! Everyone weaving in and out!! One car in the left lane was going 50. So no one is going to know. I am sure once they investigate they may come up with something–but that won’t bring anyone back. Just pray for the families–death is never fair.

  42. Lindsey Simmons says:

    The word is that the driver had an aneurysm. That’s the word from the EMT’s that were there, not his drs. This was an accident, tragic and fatal, but an accident. Stop trying to lay blame and pray for Brenna, who is in ICU. Pray for James who has to live with this for the rest of his life.

    1. Ted says:


      Any updates? I went to school with Brenna, praying for a speedy recovery.

  43. O'so lovely laylah says:

    This is riduclous even though im in city high right now doing a paper on this i think that the whole thing was a big mistake….get off the cell phones and pay attention already how many times are people going to kill people until realizing that what they are doing is just wroung.

  44. Ted says:

    A little late, but I just heard about the accident. The baby’s mother (driver of the SUV) is an ex-girlfriend of mine. I’m in shock, praying for Brenna and her family. Could not have happened to better people. Thank god her infant daughter is safe. -Ted

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