One killed in Greene Co. accident

July 16, 2014
The driver of a water tanker truck was killed and two others were injured in a crash shortly after 1 p.m. Wednesday on Route 88 in Jefferson Township. After colliding with a sport utility vehicle, the truck hit a garage and came to rest on the side of a hill. - Bob Niedbala / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

CLARKSVILLE – The driver of a water tanker truck was killed and two others were injured in a two-vehicle crash at 1 p.m. Wednesday on Route 88, about a half of a mile north of Clarksville Road in Jefferson Township.

The tanker truck was traveling north and was negotiating a curve when the driver lost control and the truck rolled onto its side, state police said.

The truck collided with a sport utility vehicle traveling in the opposite direction and then rolled over a hillside on the east side of the highway into a garage.

Leroy Melvin Knisley, 42, of Clarksburg, W.Va., was pronounced dead at the scene by Greene County Deputy Coroner Mary Lewis.

The driver of the sport utility vehicle, Rachael Kelly, no age given, of California, was flown to Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh with moderate injuries, police said. Kelly was still being evaluated late Wednesday afternoon and her condition was listed as undetermined, a hospital spokeswoman said.

A child in the vehicle was taken to a local hospital by ambulance with minor injuries, police said.

The truck destroyed the garage. The owner of the property, Frances Biel, was weeding in the garden about 10 feet away from the garage at the time of the crash.

“I heard a noise, and I heard a crumbling. Then I saw the garage coming toward me,” Biel said. She said she remembers thinking she might be killed. The wall of the garage stopped, however, about five feet from the garden.

The incident shook her up a little, the 92-year-old said. After she saw what happened, she went into the house, put on her oxygen respirator and called 911.

The garage was rebuilt in about the last year or two, Biel said. The previous garage was destroyed by another large truck, that one carrying gravel.

“There are a lot of trucks on the road; sometimes they come five at a time,” she said. All of them seem to be traveling too fast, she said.

The driver of the truck was employed for about six weeks by Energy Construction Management of Williamsport, Lewis said.

Rices Landing Volunteer Fire Company responded and Jefferson Volunteer Fire Company was called to assist with traffic control. Greene County Emergency Management and the state Department of Transportation also responded.

Traffic was halted on the road for several hours.

Bob Niedbala worked as a general assignment reporter for the newspaper for 27 years in the Greene County bureau. He received a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Pittsburgh.

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