Local

Heavy Rains Lead To Fatal Crash, Big Mess

(Photo Credit: KDKA Photojournalist Tim Lawson)

(Photo Credit: KDKA Photojournalist Tim Lawson)

Bob Allen Bob Allen
Bob Allen joined the KDKA-TV team in January 2000 as a General...
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Flash flooding left behind a big mess for some area residents, but it also turned deadly overnight in Fayette County when a man crashed over a section of road that buckled and washed away during the heavy rains.

The storms left most of Dunbar Borough under water, as well as parts of Dunbar Township, Perryopolis and Wharton Township.

KDKA’s Bob Allen Reports:

In Perry Township, 37-year-old Thomas Whipkey was found dead in his car after it crashed into a hillside and dropped more than 25-feet into a deep gorge. State police say he suffered a severe head injury.

Apparently, he didn’t know that a section of Falbo Road had been washed out by flash flooding while he was driving south on the road, headed home Saturday morning.

A relative remembers hearing Whipkey’s car pass by his home.

“I heard him come in. I could hear a loud muffler and he come in, but I didn’t hear him go up the hill,” said Tom Falbo. “That must have been when it happened; it was raining so hard I went to bed.”

Falbo Road was pitch black and there was no way to see the huge culvert.

“He wouldn’t be able to see that, not at 1 o’clock in the morning, not as dark as it was, because it was raining,” said Falbo. “It was raining pretty good then.”

According to state police, a passing driver on her way to work noticed the vehicle in the culvert and called 911.

“They told me it washed away,” said Carl Falbo, another relative of the victim. “I’m like, okay, I’m going to come out and see, and that’s when I found out what happened.”

Perry Township Supervisor Clarence Johnson says water from a creek drains into a culvert pipe, which runs under the road. The pipe was buried under dirt and covered by pavement.

“The culvert pipe got dammed with debris on the back side. You can see it’s a five-foot culvert pipe, so it got dammed on the back side and created a lake back there. The pressure of the lake washed the culvert pipe out and the road collapsed,” said Johnson.

“They just keep on fixing it. I think they need to put a bridge in,” Tom Falbo said.

For now, four families who live up the hill on the other side of the road are stranded, but the township has already brought in a backhoe. The plan is to install a culvert pipe and fix the road within 36 hours.

In Westmoreland County, parts of Rostraver Township, Smithton and South Huntingdon Township were also flooded.

The folks living in Jacobs Creek expected some rain on Friday night, but what they got was incredible.

“About four inches, I think, in two hours,” said Chief Larry Nemec, of the Turkeytown VFD.

KDKA’s Ross Guidotti Reports:

At Jenny Lash’s home, the flood waters rose up to her banister.

“We had, probably, about three feet of water in our basement last night,” said Lash.

And where there was rushing water Friday; on Saturday, it turned into a blanket of mud.

“I’ve been up since daybreak,” said one resident. “I’ve been working all day cleaning mud. There was probably about three inches of mud.”

The mud, debris and flow of water was so intense, it actually derailed a passing train overnight.

“We just moved here in April, so this is our first experience,” said Christy Yuhas, another flood victim.

And what an experience it’s been for her. Yuhas’ home was flooded Friday night, leaving behind a muddy, watery mess to clean up on Saturday.

If you live in Jacob’s Creek, right now your priorities are limited and simple.

“Just keep trying to clean it up, and hope it doesn’t rain tonight,” Yuhas said.

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