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.

Pennsylvania State Police
More Local News
Traffic On CBSPittsburgh.com

  • Debi Aronson Fisher

    so sad ……………

    • bobbie

      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…

      • tom

        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.

      • hwright

        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%

  • WSC

    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.

    • TMKI

      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.

    • Michael

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

  • Unreal

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

    • Linda

      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.

      • Michael

        Linda and Joe Black have joined the idiot club.

    • Joe Black

      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.

  • Michelle Bimeal

    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?

    • Shannon Platt

      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!!!

    • JAB

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

    • KW

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

  • Duh

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

  • JLS

    Thoughts and prayers to the families that are affected.

  • NEM

    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.

    • Some People Are Clueless

      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.

    • fly

      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

    • ksuu

      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.

  • pitsws

    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…

    • huh

      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…

  • Trappedon79

    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!

    • GTCA

      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.

  • Jack

    Too many people thing like SWS – that is the problem

    • TMKI

      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.

      • TMKI

        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.

      • IKMT

        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?

  • Madison

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

    • Me

      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.

    • hwright

      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

  • Jack

    think like

  • TLT

    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.

    • KSC

      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..

  • TLT

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

  • 79drvr

    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.

  • redrock100

    Some people cant drive. Its that easy

  • 79drvr2

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

  • Richard

    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.

  • BL

    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.

    • IK

      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.

      • TMKI

        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.

  • Chum Chum

    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.

    • fly

      well said chum chum

  • wifey1267

    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.

  • Bob Kudzma

    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.

    • Don


  • MarsMan

    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.

  • Gone with the Wind

    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.

  • Confused

    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.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Bringing You The Best in Sports Talk Radio
Download And Win Today!

Listen Live