Driver says sneeze led to crash that caused major traffic tie-ups

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Jim McNutt / Observer-Reporter
A tanker overturned in the eastbound passing lane of Interstate 70 in South Strabane Township Thursday afternoon near the Beau Street eastbound ramp. Traffic was backed up for miles while emergency crews worked at the scene. Order a Print

The driver of a tanker truck that flipped on Interstate 70 east Thursday afternoon, causing massive traffic backups for hours, told state police he sneezed and blacked out just before the crash. Driver Billie Setser, 52, of Carrollton, Ohio, was injured in the crash, police said. They did not indicate his condition.

He was driving east near the Beau Street exit in South Strabane Township when his truck, carring several thousand gallons of corn syrup to Latrobe, went off the highway, onto an embankment and rolled onto its side, blocking the left lane and partially blocking the right lane at 2 p.m.

Several hundred gallons of syrup leaked from the vehicle, but firefighters and hazardous materials crews were able to move several hundred gallons from the tanker into 55-gallon drums.

Traffic in the busy area, where interstates 70 and 79 travel together for a few miles, was backed up for miles. I-70 east was backed to Claysville and I-79 south was backed to Canonsburg, until the rig was finally removed after 6 p.m. Main streets through Washington were also clogged as motorists sought alternate routes around the crash.

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