PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The doctors and nurses in the emergency room who first treated Fred Wikert, of McCandless, told him it looked like he was hit by a bus.
Wikert, on a motorcycle, did a header after he slammed into an HOV lane safety gate.
“You can see different spots where it hit as it came up the windshield,” he said. “And then it came off the windshield and smacked me in the face.”
For Wikert, it was simple. Turn the corner along Mario Lemieux Way, jump on the HOV lane and head home.
“The main gate that says, ‘Do not enter’ is up in the air,” he said.
It’s the second gate Wikert runs into.
“If I wouldn’t have had the windshield and the gate would have come up and either hit me in the chest or bounced off my mirror and come up and hit me in the throat, I could very well be either paralyzed or killed.”
According to the accident investigators, “The main gate at the entrance of the HOV lane was up. The secondary gates were down.”
Police also noted, “The secondary gate was not lifted like it always is at that time of day.”
In the same report, a PennDOT employee states he did in fact open the outbound lane for commuters at 2:47 – five minutes before that gate in that lane came down.
The PennDOT employee telling investigators there “may be malfunctioning due to a recent storm that had occurred.”
The report also indicates the PennDOT employee “has seen it happen maybe one other time.”
“We’ve been using these fast acting gates for several years now and we haven’t had that many incidents,” PennDOT District 11 Spokesman Jim Struzzi said.
Regardless of the police reports, PennDOT says there was no malfunction in this case and that Fred Wikert messed up.
“We believe the stop signs were flashing to indicate the HOV was closed, that he should not have been entering the HOV at that point,” Struzzi said.
Wikert will now sue to defend his actions, to expose what he believes to be a gate malfunction, to pay his medical bills.
“Fix the damn thing before somebody actually gets seriously hurt worse than I did,” he said.