HAZLE TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Tonight, the latest on the investigation into a bad crash on Interstate 81 northbound in Luzerne County. Six people were injured and traffic was backed up for hours.
The violent crash happened about half a mile from exit 141, the Southwest Beltway exit near Hazleton. Fire responders say it was one of the worst crashes they have ever seen.
“This one was difficult. The injuries were pretty significant,” Hazle Township firefighter Era Gould said.
Those words and pictures taken by firefighters from the Hazle Township Volunteer Fire Department show the violence of this crash. The SUV with five people inside hit a dump truck.
“The vehicle itself, the mechanisms of the impact caused our job to be even harder with everything, all the twisted metal. The body rot that was on the vehicle itself caused us to have some problems,” Gould said.
“We are leaving here and they are calling telling us there are five people entrapped in the car and the car is possibly underneath a dump truck. So as we are going to the calls going in the rigs we are talking amongst each other everybody has a job to do,” Hazle Township Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Chief Jason Zoshak said.
It took firefighters about 48 minutes to free the people inside the SUV. Two adults and three children were flown to a trauma center in the Lehigh Valley. The dump truck driver suffered minor injuries and was able to drive his truck away from the scene with a state police escort.
The interstate was shut down at the McAdoo exit, forcing drivers to detour through McAdoo. Route 309 coming into and out of the borough looked like a parking lot.
“It just overwhelmed us very quickly especially with the construction going on on Kennedy Drive. They were making turns on some side streets of the town. It was chaos,” McAdoo Public Works Foreman Joe Madochick said.
The driver of the dump truck has been identified as 48-year-old James Gyle from Hunlock Creek. He suffered minor injuries. The names and conditions of the five people inside the SUV have not been released.
State police say it appears the SUV rear-ended the dump truck. The investigation into the crash continues.