August 4, 2008

Train Strikes Disabled Truck

By Dena Pauling, The Centre Daily Times, State College, Pa.

Aug. 4--HOWARD TOWNSHIP -- What one Milesburg man thought would be a good day of fishing at Sayers Dam on Sunday ended up as a train wreck -- literally.

Nathan Miller, 25, said he drove onto a closed road at the end of Old 220 Road in an attempt to reach a special fishing spot at Bald Eagle State Park.

He made it down the road, but when he tried to cross over train tracks, he said, the back tire of his 1998 Dodge Ram got stuck on the last rail and spun. Miller was unable to get his truck free before a Norfolk Southern train slammed into it at about 4:35 p.m.

"I was an idiot," Miller said. "Pretty much a local idiot just trying to go fishing."

Miller's friend, who declined to be interviewed, was on his way to help pull the truck off after Miller said he had tried for about 45 minutes with no avail.

But Miller's friend didn't make it in time.

"I backed up a little bit and watched the show," he said. "... It looked just like TV but louder."

Neighbors could hear the train screeching its brakes for some time and said they suspected something had gone wrong.

Ernest Greene, deputy chief of the Howard Township Fire Company, said 12 stations from across the region were called in response to the crash.

Penn State Hazmat arrived to aid in the clean up of 17 gallons of fuel that had leaked from the totaled truck.

"The train is fine," Greene said.

He was unsure of what the train was carrying, but the rail cars appeared to be filled with coal.

In a news release issued Sunday evening, Trooper Scott Rossman, the investigating officer with Rockview state police, said Robert A. Scheerer, the train conductor, was uninjured. According to Rossman, the train is also owned by Nittany and Bald Eagle Railroad Co., of Bellefonte.

Though the closed road was marked by signs, Miller said it was not physically barricaded, and he could drive on it. He decided to "give it a shot" after he heard about the fishing area from others. He has no intentions of going back.

"This is the last time I'll try to go fishing down here," he said.

Police cited Miller for trespass by motor vehicle.

Dena Pauling can be reached at 231-4619.


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