PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A nasty crash near the Rankin Bridge injured one person and snarled traffic in that area Wednesday afternoon. Now, officials say the repairs could take some time.
The driver careened off the Homestead side of the bridge just before 10 a.m., took out a traffic signal and landed on two parked cars.
“Apparently, the gentleman was driving across the Rankin Bridge into Whitaker, and for some reason didn’t stop, and hit two parked cars and the side of the building,” said John Munsie, of the Whitaker VFD.
Several employees of Bob’s Autotorium rushed to help the 69-year-old man from Tampa, Florida, who was trapped in his car. Security cam video shows the whole incident happen.
“It sounded like an explosion and I went outside and saw a car sitting on top of two other cars,” said Bob Ackerman, of Bob’s Autotorium.
Then, they realize the car caught fire. One man ran for a fire extinguisher while the others try to free the driver. It took firefighters and some extraordinary efforts to free the man.
“We had to remove the roof from the car he was in and pull him out the back of the car,” said Munsie.
He was taken to Mercy Hospital, and because there were no skid marks and no apparent effort to stop, police believe a medical condition may have prompted the crash.
But for the town of Whitaker, the crash was the start of a major traffic problem.
The pole that was taken out held all the traffic signals for the Rankin Bridge intersection, and the mayor immediately called to get a replacement.
“They’re telling us a minimum nine months because they have to custom build this pole,” said Mayor David Sabol.
In the meantime, traffic is backing up. Bridge traffic is forced to turn towards Homestead and drivers are making U-turns everywhere.
PennDOT dropped off a couple of stop signs, and the mayor says the state and county said there is nothing they can do. The mayor himself was in the intersection trying to keep things moving.
“I don’t have the manpower; I only have one police officer on duty every eight hours, and I don’t have the money to pay overtime,” he said.