No one was hurt when a CSX train ripped through a 53-foot-long trailer carrying mail at the Pleasant Avenue and Stoystown Road railroad crossing in Somerset Borough at 9:55 a.m. Monday.
"I saw the train drive through the back of the trailer and pick it up," said Clark Brant of Meyersdale, who was driving a coal truck parallel to the train on North Pleasant Avenue. He had stopped to wait for the train to clear the track so he could turn right onto Stoystown Road.
"I had a clear view. I saw the truck sitting on the railroad tracks and the train was coming. Let's just say I was nervous for him," he said.
According to state police Trooper Shawn Fabian, a car had stopped across from Somerset Milling Co. on Stoystown Road and was waiting for the train when a tractor-trailer driven by Gaines Allen Sims, 63, Glen Burnie, Md., came down the hill blowing its horn. The car took off and made it across the tracks. The truck followed. The train cab, which was pulling 14 cars, split the trailer in half.
"Mr. Sims said that he did not see any flashing red lights, signs or signals and that he did not see the train coming," Fabian said.
Fabian said the truck driver is facing numerous traffic violations.
Richard Walentukonis of Somerset was in Mattress Warehouse, two blocks up along North Pleasant Avenue, when the accident happened
"All I heard was brakes and horn," he said.
He rushed out to see if he could help, but first responders were already there, he said.
The conductor and lone occupant of the train cab, Robert Mongelluzzo of Fayette County, was not injured. He did not want to comment as he looked at the cab's grill, which was filled with letters, boxes and pieces of steel from the trailer. Thousands of pieces of mail were scattered along the train track.