MILTON — A Berwick man died Tuesday in a massive mid-afternoon crash on Interstate 80 involving four large trucks.
Northumberland County Coroner Jim Kelley and Deputy Coroner James Gotlob pronounced Earl McCormick Jr., 74, the driver of a truck hauling garbage, dead at the scene at 3:10 p.m.
An autopsy has been scheduled for 8 a.m. Thursday at Forensic Pathology Associates, Allentown, Kelley said Tuesday night.
According to Trooper Brian Watkins, of the Milton barracks of the Pennsylvania State Police, one tractor-trailer had stopped for an unrelated accident westbound on the interstate just prior to the 213 mile marker, another tractor-trailer jackknifed as it approached the accident and blocked both lanes of travel behind it and McCormick’s truck slammed into both vehicles causing disabling damage to all of them. Another vehicle hit the back of the jackknifed trailer forcing it to sideswipe a fifth vehicle, Watkins said.
No other drivers involved in the accident were reported injured.
Police did not provide any details on the crash that caused the first tractor-trailer to stop.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, the accident occurred at 1:35 p.m.
State police, assisted by fire and rescue personnel from Turbot Township and Warrior Run, shut down the westbound lane, leaving hundreds of cars and 18-wheel tractor-trailers with nowhere to go, and no detours available.
PennDOT reported the westbound lanes were opened to traffic at 11:45 p.m., more than 10 hours after the crash occurred.
Alex Cebo was on his way to Chicago and said he only saw the trucks swerving in front of him. He could not say who caused what or what vehicles were involved. “Just glad it wasn’t me. Guess I’ll be here for a while.”
Marlin Williamson was driving a tractor-trailer from Connecticut to Cleveland when the accident happened.
Williams said “it was raining hard. All I could see was one of the trucks, the Fed Ex-Ground truck swerving, probably trying to avoid hitting the other truck. As a truck driver, seeing this really shook me up.” He was standing outside his truck, which was shut down in non-moving traffic. “I guess I’ll get back in my cabin,” he said.
At about 3 p.m., traffic was shut down in both westbound and eastbound lanes as fire police tried to move some of the westbound traffic across the grass separating the lanes of travel into the eastbound lane and off I-80 via exit 215. Trucks and cars were detoured back to Interstate 180, where they could resume their trips west on I-80.