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Train, truck collide in Marion, Pa.

September 28, 2000

Train, truck collide in Marion, Pa.



By DON AINES / Staff Writer, Chambersburg


MARION, Pa. - A freight train struck a tractor-trailer, knocking it on its side and into a man's front yard on Colorado Street Thursday morning.

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The driver, Kenneth A. Wilhide, 55, of Waynesboro, Pa., was unhurt, according to Pennsylvania State Police.

"I didn't even order any Corningware," homeowner John Hart Sr. said as he looked at the cases of smashed cookware that spilled out of the trailer and onto his yard.

"I was on the back porch driving a couple of nails when I heard it," said Hart, of 238 Colorado St.

Wilhide was able to get himself out of the truck, which was on its left side, Hart said. Wilhide declined to be interviewed after the 10:34 a.m. accident.

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Trooper Jon J. Mearkle said the 1994 International truck, owned by Accelerated Pony Express of Waynesboro, was heading west on Colorado Street toward U.S. 11 when it pulled onto the tracks in front of the southbound Norfolk Southern train. The truck almost cleared the tracks, but the rear of the trailer was caught by the locomotive.

Mearkle said the warning lights at the crossing were operating, although one was sheared off at it base when the train pushed the truck over. The train stopped a couple of hundred yards down the track and remained blocking the crossing for about 90 minutes before it set off for Hagerstown.

"The flashers were working, the horn was blowing," said engineer Larry Keefe, 46, of Steelton, Pa.

"Thank God it was a tractor-trailer with a box and not a gasoline truck," Keefe said.

Mearkle said Wilhide told him he was halfway across the tracks before he saw the train coming.

According to Mearkle, the truck driver was using Colorado Street to get to U.S. 11 from Exit 4 of Interstate 81. Traffic would normally use Swamp Fox Road, which directly connects the interstate and U.S. 11, but it was closed to through traffic because of work being done to the railroad crossing on that road.

Police said Keefe and conductor John D. Hora, 54, of Steelton, Pa., were unhurt. Keefe said the train, pulling 29 cars loaded with trailers of express service packages and mail was heading from Croxton, N.J., to Hagerstown.

Hart said he had lived next to the tracks for 19 years and it was the first accident at the crossing he could remember.

Hart and others at the scene recalled a fatal accident about seven years ago when a train struck a pickup at the Swamp Fox Road crossing, dragging the vehicle south past Colorado Street before stopping.

Police said the truck's cargo was unloaded then loaded onto another truck and the wrecked truck and trailer were towed away.

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