Federal Investigation Finds Corrosion in PA Tunnel Where Fatality Accident Occurred
SLATINTON, PA. – May 1, 2018 (macon.com) Federal investigators have released a report showing that corrosion was a factor in a February 2018 incident that killed a truck driver in a Pennsylvania tunnel. The investigation findings are reported by macon.com.*
On February 21, 70-year-old Howard Sexton III, of Mickleton, New Jersey, was driving his truck southbound through the Lehigh Tunnel on the Pennsylvania Turnpike Northeast Extension (Interstate 476) about 70 miles outside of Philadelphia. When he was partially through the 4,400-foot long tunnel, a 10-foot section of conduit fell from the ceiling of the tunnel and struck his truck’s windshield. The conduit penetrated the windshield and hit Sexton in the head. Sexton died from his injuries. Other vehicles were damaged in the incident, as well, but Sexton was the only motorist who died, according to the Lehigh County Coroner.
The southbound tunnel was completed in 1991. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigated the incident and issued a report about its findings that indicated the tunnel’s fan and electrical systems had been inspected in 2016, during which inspectors noted corrosion to the steel straps that held the electrical conduit to the tunnel ceiling. At the time of Sexton’s death, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission was in the process of awarding a contract for replacement of the corroded straps.
NTSB’s report said the Turnpike Commission’s contract now includes plans to move the conduit from the ceiling of the tunnel to the outside edge of the walls. Repairs should be completed by October. NTSB plans to issue a probable cause finding in the incident, along with safety recommendations, at a later date.
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