FRACKVILLE, PA — Two Lackawanna County, PA men were killed in a fiery crash on Interstate 81 on Wednesday afternoon that sent another person to a trauma center by helicopter.
The crash occurred about 2:15 p.m. in the northbound lanes, near mile marker 121.7, about 2 miles south of the Frackville exit.
State police at the scene said it appears a tractor-trailer was traveling north when it ran into the back of a car that was slowing behind other vehicles due to construction ahead of them.
The impact pushed the passenger vehicle into a pickup, causing the pickup to be pushed into the back of another tractor-trailer.
The passenger vehicle and the cab of the pickup truck that struck it burst into flames, while the second tractor-trailer pulled the pickup truck several yards north before coming to a stop.
Firefighters from Frackville, Englewood and Altamont were called to the scene to extinguish the fire that completely engulfed the cab of the first tractor-trailer as well as the car it collided with.
Two people inside the car died at the scene. They were pronounced dead at 3:55 p.m. by Schuylkill County Deputy Coroner Andrew Sczcyglak, Shenandoah.
Szczyglak said both occupants were men from Lackawanna County, but could not release their identities until family had been notified.
The driver of the pickup suffered severe injuries and was flown to a trauma center in a medical helicopter that landed in the northbound lanes where traffic was brought to a standstill.
It was not known if the driver of the tractor-trailer that burst in flames was hurt. Police said the operator of the second tractor-trailer, the one struck by the pickup, was not injured.
Due to the intensity and amount of fire produced by the tractor-trailer and passenger vehicle, tanker trucks were dispatched from surrounding communities to shuttle enough water to the scene to extinguish the blaze.
Police said the investigation into the crash is ongoing and that they are being assisted by state police accident reconstruction experts and also the Forensic Services Unit based at Troop L, Reading.
The northbound lanes of the interstate were closed into the nighttime hours while state police conducted their investigation and the vehicle and debris were removed from the highway.
2 killed in fiery crash on I-81 in Schuylkill County
Updated on May 24, 2017 at 11:34 PM
By Wesley Robinson
Two people were killed in a crash on Interstate 81 in Schuylkill County Wednesday afternoon, state police said in a news release.
The crash happened at around 2:15 p.m. near mile marker 122 in Butler Township, state police said in a news release. The two decedents were pronounced dead at the scene have not been identified at the time of this post.
The four-vehicle crash happened when a tractor-trailer driven by Brian Barrett, 45, of Greentown, struck a Nissan Rouge carrying the decedents. The Nissan Rogue then struck the rear a Dodge ram driven by Bryan Ketcham, 24, of Hop Bottom. Ketcham's truck struck a tractor trailer driven by Roman Zhuk, 50 of Feasterville.
The Nissan Rogue and the tractor driven by Barrett were totally engulfed in flames, police said. Ketcham sustained severe injures and was flown to a local trauma center. Barrett and Zhuk were uninjured, police said.
State police are investigating the crash.
SCHUYLKILL COUNTY, PA -- The northbound lanes of Interstate 81 in Schuylkill County were closed for hours after a crash killed two people Wednesday afternoon.
Several vehicles were involved, including a tractor-trailer that caught fire after the crash.
Emergency crews rushed to the scene after that pileup happened just after 2 p.m. roughly six miles north of the Minersville exit (116).
The deadly wreck shut down the northbound lanes for hours, bringing traffic to a standstill.
“Normally it takes 45 minutes to get here and it took me two hours,” said Debbie Clark. “That's how bad. I sat pretty much, didn't move for quite a while.”
Clark was coming from Lebanon to have dinner with her husband David at the Dutch Kitchen Restaurant in Frackville. Those dinner plans were delayed a few hours.
“They had us get off at an exit,” said Clark. “They closed 81 north and my GPS took me around and to get back on 81, but they wouldn't let us back on, so we had all these back roads.”
State police in Frackville say the crash involved two tractor trailers and two pickup trucks.
Two people in one of the pickups were killed. The driver of the other pickup truck was flown to a trauma center for his injuries.
Workers at the Dutch Kitchen said several of their diners were coming in off the interstate, talking about the crash.
“They just kept saying how awful it was and how bad traffic was backed up. They sat for about an hour and then state police were directing traffic and finally they had to take a detour,” said cashier Eric Zenbrosky.
Zenbrosky says everyone at the restaurant was upset to hear about another deadly wreck on the interstate.
“It's terrible. It really is.”
State police say the names of the two people killed are still unknown. The Schuylkill County coroner's office is assisting in identifying the victims.