(Monessen, Pennsylvania – January 29, 2015)
The former mayor of Monessen, PA received serious facial injuries, including a broken nose and multiple other fractures when the station wagon she was driving was struck on the passenger’s side and dragged 35 feet by a CSX Railroad ballast regulator at the crossing of Moranda Way and multiple CSX railroad tracks at about 12:14 P.M., EST. The former mayor’s vehicle was struck as she was leaving the Monessen Riverfront Industrial Park where she works as a legislative aid to State Representative Ted Harhai (D), whose office is in the industrial park.
Mary Jo Smith, 66, was taken by ground ambulance to Monongahela Valley Hospital in Carroll, PA, but was then transferred to UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh, PA for treatment of her injuries.
The crossing into the industrial park, although equipped with flashing lights and gates, consists of three tracks, one of which is a considerable distance from the other two crossing. It is uncertain if the ballast regulator even activated the lights and gates at the crossing as there were conflicting reports as to whether or not the crossing warning systems were triggered by the large piece of self-propelled, track-mounted equipment. The operator of the regulator was CSX employee Joseph Whitley, 61.
Ms. Smith served a single term as Monessen’s first female mayor, losing in 2014 to current Mayor Lou Mavrakis. She is a former Monessen city council member and currently serves as a member of the Monessen Public Library Board in addition to her long-time legislative assistantship to the state representative.
Police, who were working with CSX railroad authorities, had filed no charges in the accident, but were still investigating the collision.