A stretch of U.S. Route 322, between Port Matilda and Philipsburg, was closed for several hours Saturday night while crews worked to rescue the driver of a tanker truck that crashed over an embankment.
Multiple fire companies and first responders from Centre and Clearfield counties worked for about two hours to extricate the driver, who was conscious and alert but “heavily entrapped” in the truck about 75 feet down the embankment, Hope Fire Company posted on Facebook. Crews were first dispatched at about 7:40 p.m.
“After rolling down the embankment, the tractor trailer came to rest on the driver’s side, pinned up against two large trees, with a third tree coming down on top of the cab of the truck,” the fire company posted.
Crews navigated steep and unstable terrain during the extraction, and a heavy wrecker was used to secure and lift the large tree on top of the truck.
The unidentified male driver was flown by helicopter to a trauma center, according to a Facebook post from Columbia Volunteer Fire Company in Osceola Mills. The extent of his injuries is not known.
“Crews were faced with a very tough situation, due to the cab of the truck pinning the patient down, a tree being down on top of the truck and patient, leaving crews with minimal space to work with to attempt a rescue effort,” the fire company wrote.
Centre Region HazMat was also called to the scene to handle a glycerin leak from the crash, Hope Fire Company wrote.
In addition to the Columbia Fire Company and Centre Region HazMat, others that assisted the Philipsburg Fire Department on the scene include Port Matilda Fire Company, Alpha Fire Company, Moshannon Valley EMS, Bigler Boyz Towing & Recovery, Rush Township EMA, Centre County EMA and PennDOT. Snow Shoe Fire Company transferred to Philipsburg and subsequently established a landing zone at the former Philipsburg Area Hospital for the driver, and Howard Fire Company transferred to Port Matilda and was brought to the scene after extrication to assist with cleanup of equipment.
State police at Rockview are investigating the crash.
Eastbound lanes of the highway were closed between Black Moshannon Road/Presqueisle Street and Blazosky Road, Shady Dell Drive. The road reopened just before 11:30 p.m.
In a Facebook post, Hope Fire Company thanked the assisting agencies for their work on the challenging call.
“The crews worked together seamlessly on a complex extrication which had a positive outcome for the driver,” the fire company posted.