Thursday, January 10, 2008

Car Hit, Totaled By Loose Landscaping Trailer

Car Hit, Totaled By Loose Landscaping Trailer

ETNA (KDKA) ― In April, a father and two of his triplets were killed when a wood chipper came loose from the back of a truck on oute 8 in Richland Township and slammed into their mini-van.

Spencer Morrison, along with his children Garrett and Alaina, died in the accident.

Four year-old Ethan was the only one to survive the crash.

Investigators said the accident happened because the wood chipper was not properly secured to the truck.

Now, police are investigating a similar accident.

"I saw this thing hit the car," said Lora Johnson. "It was like something from the sky fell, and hit my car."

It wasn't a piece of aircraft that crashed into Johnson's car last Thursday.

It was a trailer that became detached from a landscaping truck in Etna.

For Johnson, it brought back memories of that wood chipper crash that claimed the lives of a man and two of his small children.

"How could this happen again," asked Johnson. "I couldn't believe that this could have happened again in Western Pennsylvania... so close in time to what had happened on Route 8."

Johnson was driving up Grant Avenue Hill and the landscaping truck was coming downhill.

Etna police say the ball on the landscaping truck was loose.

There was no pin in the receiver mechanism.

The trailer's brake lights weren't working properly.

In fact, police say the lights weren't even hooked up.

And, those safety chains between the trailer and truck, well there weren't any chains, just some cables.

The driver of the truck and the owner of the lawn service company now face multiple motor vehicle violations.

"This accident was something that should not have happened at all," said Johnson. "I think personally that these vehicles should be spot checked. We have spot checks for seat belts, for children in car seats. It seems to me this kind of vehicle should be spot checked."

Steve Stakes runs S&G Repair in the North Hills.

He says he could write a book about the problems he's seen involving trailers.

Many of them are because safety pins aren't locked in place correctly.

"This pin comes out - you open it up, you attach your trailer, or wood chipper - close this back down," said Stakes. "This pin has to go in this hole to lock it in place."

Besides those motor vehicle violations, Etna police say they are now considering criminal charges in the case.

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