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

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 were flown from the scene of a tractor-trailer accident Thursday morning on eastbound Interstate 70 at Exit 29 (Md. 65/Sharpsburg Pike), a Maryland State Police trooper said.

Trooper 1st Class E. Witanowski said the two occupants of the tractor-trailer, a man in his 60s and his son in his late 20s, were flown to R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center. The extent of their injuries wasn't known, he said.

The accident was reported at 8:43 a.m., authorities said. Witanowski said the tractor-trailer rig apparently veered off the interstate, went off the off-ramp to Md. 65, crashed through a guardrail and went down a 50-foot embankment.

Both the tractor and trailer overturned at the bottom of the embankment, Witanowski said. Its fuel tanks were ripped off, causing a diesel fuel spill, state police said.

The ramp from northbound Md. 65 to eastbound I-70 remains closed while crews work to clean up the fuel spill, according to Washington County Emergency Services.

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Both eastbound lanes of I-70 are open, according to EMS.

The cause of the accident remains under investigation, Witanowski said.

Two medevac helicopters were called to the scene following the accident, authorities said.

A helicopter landed on the on-ramp from Md. 65 to eastbound I-70 and a man on a gurney was wheeled to the helicopter, which took off at about 9:30 a.m.

A second medevac helicopter had been called to the scene and a landing zone was set up at Premium Outlets. But that helicopter, too, landed on the ramp about 100 yards from the wreck at about 9:50 a.m. The second copter took off at about 10:10 a.m.

A Maryland State Police officer said the wreck involved only the tractor-trailer rig, occupied by a father and son driving team. He said the first helicopter carried the patient who appeared to be the most seriously injured.

The crash site is in a wooded area to the east of where I-70 and the off-ramp meet. Vegetation has been flattened along the path the rig took to the bottom of the ravine at the bottom of the embankment.

Rescue workers secured a rope  to help themselves get to the crash site.

The guardrail at the exit ramp was down. At least a dozen emergency vehicles were parked on the off-ramp.

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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