Teen escapes injury when truck loses brakes on hilly street, plows through yard and hits vehicles
COAL TOWNSHIP - The driver of a truck that lost the use of its brakes in a hilly section of Ferndale Wednesday afternoon said she aimed for a tree in an attempt to stop the out-of-control vehicle.
Sierra Smeltzer, 18, of Coal Township, went for a wild ride after the brakes of her father's Ford-150 gave out, sending the truck through a busy intersection, a large yard, down a steep embankment and into two parked vehicles on Chestnut Street.
Smeltzer was uninjured in the incident, but was visibly shaken in the moments after the crash. She sat crying on a curb near the scene, apologizing to the owners of the vehicles that were damaged.
A Honda Elantra, owned by Bernice Snyder, 65, of 1017 W. Chestnut St., took the brunt of the impact and was destroyed.
A Ford F-250 parked behind the Elantra owned by Blevins Ford, 68, of Gowen City, sustained front-end damage, but was driven from the scene. The Elantra was pushed against Snyder's stone porch, causing damage to the property.
"I tried slowing down, but nothing worked," Smeltzer said. "I tried down-shifting. I tried the emergency brake. I was trying to hit a tree to stop me."
Smeltzer said she was traveling north on Popular Street, down a steep hill, when the brakes stopped working. The truck, with its bed filled with trash, blew through the intersection with Spruce Street and continued up a slight incline towards Wood Street.
At Wood Street, the truck hit a "no outlet" street sign and a support cable for a utility pole, just narrowly missing the pole. Smeltzer aimed for a large tree, but missed. The truck left Popular Street and traveled approximately 50 yards down a large yard behind 1014 Chestnut St., owned by Sam Schickley. At the end of the yard, the truck traveled down a steep grass embankment, entered Chestnut Street and struck the parked vehicles.
"It could have been worse," Snyder said, indicating a pedestrian could have been struck or someone could have been killed. "Just last week, I was out cleaning my sidewalk."