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November 13, 2013

PennDOT to review crash site

SHARON — PennDOT will be reviewing the Connelly Boulevard area in Sharon where three people were killed and four others injured Friday night, said Bill Petit, executive of the PennDOT district that includes Mercer County.

Sharon resident Stephen Theiss asked for the review Monday at the Mercer County Metropolitan Planning Organization, but Petit said a Sharon city official had beat him to it. City Manager Scott Andrejchak had already dashed off an email.

PennDOT will be looking at all of the factors involved in the crash, a standard review whenever there is a fatal crash on a state road, Petit said.

Sharon Police Chief Mike Menster said he hoped the crash investigation would be finished later in the week.

A previous review resulted in PennDOT putting in center-line rumble strips, Petit said.

A quick scan of PennDOT records showed there have been 10 reportable accidents in the area since 2008. Reportable crashes are ones in which someone was killed or injured or a vehicle could not be driven from the scene under its own power. None of the previous crashes included any fatalities, he said.

Of the 10 reportable crashes, eight involved a vehicle hitting a fixed object, such as a guardrail, or a deer, Petit said.

In January 2007, Charles and Margaret Means, both 79, of Jefferson Township, were killed when their car crossed into the opposing lane and hit an SUV in the same area.

Theiss noted that this stretch of Connelly, west of the Oakland Avenue viaduct, does not have a barrier between opposing lanes of travel, while other sections, such as the segment east of Stambaugh Avenue, do.

“Nobody thinks about it until something like this happens,” Theiss said.

The crash at shortly after 10 p.m. Friday claimed the lives of Corey Swartz and Evan Gill, both 17-year-old Sharon High School seniors and football players, and John Zdelar, 50, of Brookfield. Swartz was driving a sport-utility vehicle that went into the opposing lane, hitting Zdelar’s pickup, police said.

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