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Father, son airlifted from scene of tractor-trailer rollover crash on I-70

Richard M. McKinney and William J. Taylor were transported to R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Medical Center

April 12, 2012|By DAN DEARTH | dan.dearth@herald-mail.com
  • A tractor-trailer rig tumbled down a 50-foot embankment after veering off eastbound Interstate 70 at Exit 29 (Md. 65/Sharpsburg Pike) on Thursday morning. Its two occupants were airlifted from the scene.
By Yvette May/Staff Photographer

A father and son hauling dog food in a tractor-trailer were flown to a Baltimore hospital Thursday morning after their truck ran off Interstate 70 south of Hagerstown and plunged down a 60-foot embankment, Maryland State Police said.

The driver of the tractor-trailer, Richard M. McKinney, 57, and his 27-year-old son, William J. Taylor, both of Sharpsville, Pa., were flown by separate helicopters to R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Medical Center in Baltimore, according to a state police news release.

Troopers said the two men suffered serious injuries in the accident.

A hospital spokeswoman did not immediately return a phone call seeking their conditions Thursday afternoon.

Authorities said the accident was reported at 8:43 a.m.

An investigation determined that the 2005 Freightliner owned by Global Logistics, LLC, of Mercer, Pa., drifted off I-70 East and struck a concrete bridge abutment, police said.

The vehicle then struck a guardrail, crossed the Exit 29 (Md. 65/Sharpsburg Pike) off-ramp, drove through more guardrail and rolled down the embankment.

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Trooper 1st Class E. Witanowski said at the scene that the tractor-trailer overturned at the bottom of the embankment.

The truck’s fuel tanks were ripped off, causing an estimated 200-gallon diesel fuel spill, police said.

As a result, a Washington County hazardous materials unit and the Maryland Department of the Environment were called to the scene.

Kevin Lewis, director of Washington County Emergency Services, said rescue workers had a hard time getting to the heavily-wooded crash area. Firefighters and medics could be seen using ropes to descend to the crash scene.

McKinney and Taylor had to be freed from the vehicle, the release said.

They were flown out by separate helicopters that landed on the off ramp. The first helicopter from LifeNet left the scene at 9:30 a.m. The second helicopter, which was operated by state police, took off at 10:10 a.m.

The ramp from eastbound I-70 to northbound Md. 65 remained closed well into Thursday afternoon while crews worked to clean up the diesel fuel and dog food, state police said.

An inmate work crew from the Maryland Correctional Training Center also was called to help with the cleanup effort.

For several hours, only one lane of traffic was open on I-70 east near the crash site.

Kirk Clukey, who lives off of Sharpsburg Pike about a mile south of I-70, said he drove past the accident scene and stopped to see what had happened.

“I saw both people get pulled out of the truck,” he said.

Clukey, 46, said he was just running errands when he stopped.

“I was praying for the victims and thanking God that people were helping them,” he said. “It looked like total devastation.”

— Mobile Journalist Caleb Calhoun contributed to this story.

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