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LIGONIER (KDKA) – A tractor-trailer crashed into a creek in Westmoreland County Wednesday morning.
According to officials, the crash happened on Route 30, near the Sleepy Hollow Causeway in Ligonier around 8 a.m.
A Maines Paper tractor-trailer was heading to a Burger King when the driver fell asleep. The truck went through a guard rail, over an embankment and into the creek.
“At this point, the driver was fatigued, that came from a statement of the driver himself, which obviously resulted in him going off the road and having an accident,” Ligonier Township Police Chief Michael Matrunics said.
A passenger suffered a head injury, but was able to free himself.
However, the driver remained trapped until a technical rescue was conducted by multiple crews. He was flown by medical helicopter to a Pittsburgh-area hospital to be treated for non-life threatening injuries.
“It was a difficult rescue because of how he was entangled,” said Chief Matrunics. “There was a lot of rope detail to do to get over the steep embankment to actually get to the cab to do the rescue.”
The passenger was taken to a nearby hospital for observation of that minor head injury and a bloody nose.
HAZMAT teams arrived on scene and while the rescue was happening, they began to set up barriers and absorption socks across the creek to try to gather the significant amount of diesel fuel and oil pouring out.
Officials say it is going to be a long time before Route 30 will re-open.
“We are just beginning the recovery, so that’s going to be hours, probably four or five hours at least, maybe longer,” Chief Matrunics said.
Rescue officials said the occupants are very lucky to have survived the crash. They also said they’re very fortunate that for the first time in several weeks, Loyalhanna Creek has been running below flood stage.
Officials are investigating the crash and not rolling out the possibility of charges.