(Somerset, Pennsylvania – September 25, 2012)
An 18-wheeler with a 53’ long trailer loaded with U.S. mail was struck by a CSX train at the non-gated crossing of Stoystown Road in Somerset, PA mid-morning Monday at about 9:55 A.M., scattering bulk mail – catalogues and advertising – but no first class or priority mail shipments.
Fortunately, the truck driver, Gaines Allen Sims, 63, of Glen Burnie, MD, was able to get his tractor across the tracks before the 14-car train cut the trailer in half and sent thousands of pieces of mail to unintended destinations along the CSX railroad tracks.
Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Shawn Fabian, who was investigating the accident, said that “Mr. Sims said that he did not see any flashing red lights, signs or signals, and that he did not see the train coming.” The crossing was equipped with lights and bells, but lacked gates.
Also investigating were USPS personnel, Somerset Postmaster David Leventry, who arrived on the scene only minutes after the accident, and Somerset Operations Manager for Zip Codes 155, 157 and 159 Wendy Hudak, who arrived in the afternoon. Both assured USPS patrons that a USPS crew would have the mail retrieved, loaded into a substitute trailer, and delivered to the addressees. The mail had originated in Maryland and was destined for locations in Ohio and Pennsylvania.
“A lot of what I saw is mail from non-profits,” observed Hudak.
The Stoystown Road/CSX crossing has seen its share of accidents, as Monday’s was the fifth since the Federal Railroad Administration began recording them in the 1970’s, but was also the fourth at that location in the past two years, the most recent prior one having suffered a fatality.