PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – When a local business owner’s delivery van was hit by a City of Pittsburgh snow plow and he had a hard time getting the city to pay for the damage, he decided to Get Marty.
After our initial report aired last month, KD Investigator Marty Griffin learned that business owner is not alone.
And Monday evening, a city employee is blowing the whistle on what appears to be a disturbing pattern.
When the side of Jerry Montesano’s work truck was torn off by a city public works snow plow on Ellsworth Avenue in Shadyside, he watched it happen.
“I saw my van pushed up onto the sidewalk,” he said. “I saw a city salt truck proceeding down. The city salt truck was right about here, driving down, throwing salt.”
A few weeks later, this time on the North Side, this happened: Pam Zollars watched a city public works salt truck slam into her car. She was upstairs watching it happen from a bedroom window.
“I saw the truck and then I heard it,” she said. “I said, better get downstairs and I ran down as fast as I could, but by the time I got downstairs, he was already at the top of the hill.”
Another hit-and-run that caused $3,000 worth of damage.
“He didn’t stop or anything,” said Zollars. “He didn’t ring the bell.”
One more hit-and-run in Greenfield happened on a steep hill on Neeb Street on Valentine’s night.
“It’s $1,600,” said Kim Roscoe.
Roscoe watched it happen and says she was also hit by a public works salt truck.
“So they back up the hill,” she said. “He was backing up in a pickup truck and just kept going and rammed right into him. Took off up the street. He didn’t even stop, nothin’, so we called the police.”
The pattern here isn’t a fluke – at least that’s what a public works truck driver says.
He says drivers have hit cars, done significant damage and left the scene.
“Oh yeah, definitely,” he said.
The veteran public works driver didn’t want to be identified, but says that hit-and-runs are common.
“Oh yeah, there’s a lot that haven’t been reported,” he said. “People just don’t know, they just don’t know the salt truck did it.”
Why do they do it? He says they know they won’t be caught or punished.
“A lot of guys just figure they’ll roll the dice, take off and go,” he said. “Keep on rollin.’”
He says those drivers want to protect their driving record and adds he’s never heard of a driver being punished for a hit-and-run.
Attorney Phil Dilucente represents all three hit-and-run victims.
“Marty, this must stop,” he said. “Crimes are being committed daily, by not criminals, but by citizens working for the City of Pittsburgh, supposed to be cleaning our roads.”
In a letter written to Mayor Bill Peduto, Dilucente says “as you know, this is criminal in nature and I am certain if you were aware of this problem that you would investigate at all costs to keep the citizens of Pittsburgh safe.”
“It’s not just shocking, it’s quite disturbing,” said Dilucente. “After the first one you can say accident, the second time you can say coincidence, third time – the City of Pittsburgh has a major problem.”
Zollars now has to climb into her car through the back door, she just wants someone to help her fight.
The city says it doesn’t want anyone to go it alone either.
“We take these claims very seriously,” said Peduto Chief of Staff Kevin Acklin. “They are investigated, it takes a bit of time.”
The city says it will look closely at every claim.
“We will take appropriate action,” said Acklin. “The parties involved will be held accountable.”