STRONG — Two elderly cousins being driven by a relative to an area hospital for a routine health checkup Monday afternoon were killed in a violent head-on collision along the way.
Charles D. Carl, 92, and Roland E. Matejick, 76, both of Gordon, were each pronounced dead at the scene of the 12:15 p.m. crash.
They were being driven to Geisinger Medical Center, Danville, by Tina Alexander, 40, of Gordon. She was transported to Geisinger by Elysburg Ambulance after the crash and was listed in fair condition by a hospital nursing supervisor Monday evening.
Police say Alexander is a granddaughter of Carl and a niece of Matejick.
The second driver, Glenn Meredith, 52, of Mount Carmel, was treated by AREA Services paramedics and flown at 1:15 p.m. by Life Flight helicopter to Geisinger, where he was in critical condition Monday evening.
‘Criminal’ investigation
Mount Carmel Township Police Chief Brian Hollenbush said his department is treating the investigation into the crash as a criminal matter and are looking into whether or not alcohol played a role.
Witnesses told police Meredith’s vehicle, a 2001 Dodge Dakota pickup, was swerving in and out of its eastbound lane. It crossed the double-yellow line and drove into the westbound passing lane, where it collided with Alexander’s 2004 GMC Envoy.
The front ends of both vehicles came to rest sideways in the eastbound lane. Neither driver attempted to brake or take evasive action, police say.
There was no precipitation at the time of the crash and the road was dry.
The crash occurred about one-half mile uphill on Natalie Mountain, between SOS Metals and Turkey Hill Minit Market, from the Routes 54-61 intersection. Route 54 was closed between Route 61 and Marion Heights Road and didn’t reopen until shortly before 4:30 p.m.
Charles, the front seat passenger, was wearing a seat belt; Matejick and Alexander were not, police say.
Hollenbush and Mount Carmel Township Patrolman Kelly Campbell are investigating the crash. They were assisted at the scene by fellow officers from their department along with Mount Carmel Borough, Kulpmont, Coal Township and Shamokin police.
Shortly after Life Flight lifted off for Geisinger, officers began to reconstruct the accident scene. A ladder truck was used to take aerial photos above the wreckage. Afterward, firefighters cut the passenger-side doors from the Envoy to remove Carl and Matejick.
Responding to the scene were volunteer firefighters from Atlas, Kulpmont, Marion Heights, Natalie and Strong, along with fire police volunteers.