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ROSS TOWNSHIP, Pa. (KDKA) – The inbound lanes of the Parkway North were completely closed down for nearly 12 hours after a series of crashes left one person dead and several others injured.
State police say there were three separate accidents on the Parkway North. It’s believed the first crash happened around 5:15 a.m. near the Bellevue/West View exit.
According to police, a dump truck driver struck the center median, lost control, rolled onto its side and slid through a guardrail and partially down an embankment.
The truck was hauling slag dust, which spilled onto the roadway.
“Once that vehicle crashed, the load that was on that truck was slag dust. That slag dust caused a black smoke cloud, which the drivers weren’t able to see traveling behind that vehicle and two other crashes occurred because of that,” Pennsylvania State Police Tpr. Melinda Bondarenka said.
In all, five vehicles were involved. Three people had to be taken to the hospital to be treated for their injuries.
The driver of the dump truck died in the crash. He has been identified as Bryant Beiter, 64, of Munhall. It’s not known what caused Beiter to strike the median.
Adam Stasik who was one of the other people involved in the chain-reaction crash. He posted this message on his Facebook page:
“On my way to work this morning around 5am on I-279 southbound. I was involved in a multiple car crash. I was driving along near the Bellevue exit when all of the sudden my truck seemed like it was getting pelted with rocks or something. Then I was completely immersed in black ash and couldn’t see a thing. I slowed down and hit god knows what. Airbags deployed, truck totaled. I am okay I suffered minor injuries thankfully.”
KDKA’s Lisa Washington Reports:
The crash comes just days after PennDOT established new traffic patterns for the latest phase of a major road project on the Parkway North. Inbound lanes were narrowed to 11-feet wide to make room for a crossover “express lane” for drivers heading northbound.
“We don’t know if that’s a factor, but yes, they are narrower because of the construction,” Tpr. Bondarenka said. “It appears that vehicle was traveling in the left lane, lost control, overturned on its side and is partially down the embankment.”
PennDOT says they’ll be closely monitoring the results of the state police investigation into the crash.
“Not knowing where this occurred, what the cross slope is, what the condition of the driver was, the condition of the road, I don’t know any of those things right now, so I can’t speculate on that,” said PennDOT District 11 Executive Cheryl Moon-Sirianni.
The accident happened south of the Bellevue/West View exit, bringing early morning traffic on the inbound lanes to a standstill. The lanes were closed at Camp Horne Road and traffic had to be re-routed. Part of the road reopened around 5:30 p.m. However, PennDOT said a single-lane restriction would remain in place for the time being between the Bellevue/West View exit and Perrysville Avenue.
UPDATE: Southbound I-279 has reopened to traffic. A single-lane restriction will be in place between the Bellevue/West View (Exit 7) and Perrysville Avenue (Exit 5) interchanges in the location of the crash this morning, per @PennDOTNews.
— Celina Pompeani (@CelinaPompeani) April 17, 2018
“It usually takes an extended period of time to remove a large vehicle from the roadway,” Tpr. Bondarenka said.
A state police accident reconstruction team worked at the scene, while tow trucks removed the damaged cars. Crews also had the task of removing the slag dust from the highway.
As a result of the crash, commuters were forced to find alternate routes. Babcock Boulevard, McKnight Road and Routes 19 and 65 saw higher traffic volumes.
Additionally, the North Hills School District sent out an alert that buses were running 10 to 15 minutes behind schedule.