Truck crash investigation will continue

August 28, 2004|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

WAYNESBORO, PA. - A small wooden cross stuck in the dirt to the side of the Mountain Gate Family Restaurant Friday morning was a lonely reminder that two people died violent deaths there the night before.

April Lynn Zimmerman Garrett, 35, of 13204 Smithsburg Pike in Smithsburg, was struck and killed by a pickup truck that was careening sideways across the restaurant's parking lot while she was leaving with her husband and two children, said Barry Keller, chief of the Washington Township Police Department.

Brian W. Wertz, 31, of 304 Constitution Ave. in Mont Alto, Pa., the driver of the black, full-size 1992 Chevrolet pickup, was killed when the truck slammed sideways into the restaurant at 10530 Buchanan Trail East, Keller said.


Both were pronounced dead at the scene by Deputy Franklin County Coroner Ted Reed.

Garrett and Wertz died of multiple blunt force trauma, Franklin County Coroner Jeffrey Conner said Friday.

An autopsy on Wertz was performed Friday, Conner said. He said results of a toxicology test to determine if there were contributing factors won't be available for six to eight weeks.

Ryan Soverns, 25, of 303 S. Main St. in Mont Alto, a passenger in the truck, was flown to Hershey (Pa.) Medical Center. He was listed in fair condition Friday, a hospital spokesman said.

Soverns is the son of Debra Lee, a member of the Mont Alto Borough Council and the borough's former mayor, according to Borough Secretary Patty Kocek.

Garrett's husband and children sustained minor injuries from flying debris, Keller said.

Relatives at Garrett's and Wertz's homes declined to comment Friday. Wertz was married and the father of three children, a family friend said.

According to Keller, Wertz was westbound on Buchanan Trail East (Pa. 16). The pickup went off the left side of the road and hit a curb, causing the truck to turn sideways about 45 degrees. The pickup continued sliding west through a front lawn and driveway of an adjoining property, and went airborne for 54 feet before reaching the parking lot, where it struck Garrett. The truck then hit a parked blue Ford pickup before it crashed into the side of the restaurant, Keller said.

Tire marks in the parking lot showed the truck's path.

"We know what happened, Keller said. "Now, we have to determine why it happened."

The investigation will continue with interviews with Soverns and other witnesses, Keller said.

A sign on the front door of the restaurant said the restaurant would be closed all day Friday and reopen today at 5 a.m.

People were working inside the restaurant Friday morning. One employee declined to comment, saying "we're not allowed to."

The side of the restaurant where the truck hit was boarded over with plywood.

That side of the building housed a gift shop and the hostess and cashier stations, Keller said. No one inside the restaurant was injured in the crash, he said. Employees continued to work late Friday closing the restaurant, the chief said.

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