Note: This story is updated from earlier versions to reflect that the concrete barrier is meant to protect vehicles from falling into Carbon Run.
SHAMOKIN — A city man and his 3-year-old great-granddaughter died Wednesday when their vehicle sped down a steep street and slammed head-on into a concrete barrier meant to keep vehicles from dropping into the Carbon Run below.
Northumberland County Coroner James Kelley identified the victims as Allen E. Travitz, Sr., 68, and Mackenzie Mae Garber, 3, both of Shamokin.
They died after the 1988 Ford Bronco in which they were traveling crashed into the barrier just before 8 a.m. in the 200 block of West Montgomery Street, between Market Street and the creek channel at Sixth Street.
Kelley pronounced Garber and Travitz dead at the scene.
Police don’t know yet what caused the crash to occur but Chief Darwin Tobias III said circumstances aren’t considered suspicious. An investigation continues as police look to conduct additional interviews and seek out surveillance footage.
Police believe the vehicle was traveling downhill farther east of Market Street before it crossed the state highway, Route 125, and continued west, Tobias said.
“Neighbors said it sounded like the motor was revving as it went by. Two witnesses said that,” Tobias said. It appeared the vehicle did not strike anything before hitting the barrier.
George Geise, of 243 Montgomery St., lives in the last house before the barrier. He was sitting inside when he said what sounded like an explosion occurred just outside his front door.
“By the time I got out here I seen the truck back up and slap back into the wall,” Geise said.
Geise checked inside the vehicle quickly before smoke began to build from the engine. He said he ran back inside for an extinguisher, returned and emptied it onto the vehicle’s front-end.
He looked inside again and said both victims appeared deceased.
“I went over and tried to do vitals,” Geise said. “I was so shaken up.”
Geise and other witnesses and neighbors ran to the scene and several called 911, Geise said.
The truck struck the barrier with enough force to leave an imprint of the headlights and grill in the concrete. The vehicle’s front end crushed into itself, being pushed back above the front tires.
It doesn’t appear the male was wearing a seat belt, Tobias said. There were two child seats in the vehicle but police aren’t sure if the girl was strapped into either, he said.
Chief Deputy Coroner James Gotlob assisted Kelley on scene. Members of the Shamokin Fire Bureau responded, standing watch to douse the vehicle in the event leaking fuel had ignited. AREA Services Ambulance personnel also responded.