Frackville man dies in crash
DEER LAKE - A Frackville man was killed when his car was crushed between a tractor-trailer and another car at Routes 61 and 895 early Thursday morning.
Schuylkill County Deputy Coroner William Cairnes, Auburn, pronounced Scott L. Bennett, 33, dead at the scene at 7:08 a.m.
Route 61 was closed for about 6 1/2 hours as authorities investigated the accident.
The driver of the second car was identified as David G. Schatz Jr., 44, of Schuylkill Haven. He was taken to Schuylkill Medical Center-South Jackson Street by Auburn EMS, where he was treated and released.
The driver of the truck, owned by Koppenheffer & Son Trucking Co. Inc., Boyertown, was identified as John S. Hoover, 44, of Reading. Hoover was taken by company officials for routine drug and alcohol testing in accordance with the company's regulations. Authorities said there is no reason to suspect the man was under the influence.
State police Trooper Robert Oakley of the Schuylkill Haven station said the crash occurred at 6:02 a.m. as Schatz was driving a 2009 Hyundai Sonata east on Route 895 when he entered Route 61 and struck the side of a 2012 Chrysler 200 being driven south on Route 61 by Bennett.
Oakley said that after being hit, Bennett's car entered the northbound lane, struck a guide rail and then went directly into the path of the 1997 Mack tractor-trailer traveling north.
The rig struck Bennett's car broadside on the passenger's side and pushed it north into the side of Schatz's car, which came to a stop in the northbound lane after the initial impact with Bennett's car, Oakley said.
Police said the truck was loaded with mail en route to the Pottsville Post Office, adding that the seal on the trailer was not broken and the items inside remained unaffected.
Troopers from the Accident Reconstruction Unit and the Motor Carrier Enforcement Unit conducted an investigation at the scene.
As police investigated the crash, crews were busy nearby working on a construction project that may eventually place a traffic light at the intersection. Local municipalities have yet to sign an agreement for the maintenance of the light but are expected to in the near future.
The work is part of a construction project under the direction of the state Department of Transportation designed to make that intersection, along with other dangerous sections of Route 61 through Deer Lake, safer.
That light is a long time coming, said Michael Strouse, chief of the Deer Lake-West Brunswick Township Fire Company.
"We've had a couple fatal crashes at this intersection," Strouse said. "A light will certainly help. It's been needed for many, many years."
Strouse said whenever his company is called to a crash at the intersection, it is usually serious and Thursday was no different.
"It's never good when we get called here because you never want to see anyone hurt and especially anyone killed," Strouse said. "We'll be glad when its done," he said of the traffic light and intersection improvements.
Thursday's crash comes on the heels of a crash at the same intersection Oct. 31, 2012, that claimed the life of a 59-year-old Old Forge woman.