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Train strikes truck, no injuries in Berks incident

By Liz Kilmer, Reporter, LKilmer@wfmz.com
69 News, follow: @69news, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Aug 12 2014 08:31:19 AM CDT
Updated On: Aug 13 2014 04:29:57 AM CDT

The driver of a tractor trailer has been charged with both risking and causing a catastrophe in a crash involving a freight train in Berks County on Tuesday.

SOUTH HEIDELBERG TWP., Pa. -

The driver of a tractor trailer has been charged with both risking and causing a catastrophe in a crash involving a freight train in Berks County on Tuesday.

Emergency crews were called to the scene in the 300 block of Old West Penn Avenue in South Heidelberg Township shortly before 8:30 a.m., after the truck attempted to cross private railroad tracks and was struck by an eastbound Norfolk Southern freight train, officials said.

"The train struck the trailer portion of the truck and spilled some of the contents of the truck on the railroad," said Commissioner Jeff Weidner, Western Berks Fire Department.

Weidner said the truck's passenger was taken to the hospital for treatment of minor injuries and later released.

The truck's driver, Christian Gomez, 38, of New Jersey, along with the two crew members aboard the train, were not hurt, according to officials.

"It was weird. We walked up to the back there and we seen the train stopped and the truck all smashed up," said Ralph Lush, who lives near the crash.

Officials said the collision split the truck in two and caused some of the 44,000 pounds of powdered aluminum it was hauling to spill onto the tracks. Weidner said the scene was quickly contained.

According to a representative with Norfolk Southern, the train had 102 loaded cars.

The incident comes on the heels of a similar crash that happened just more than a mile away in Heidelberg Township on Saturday.

In that case, police said an 18-year-old man's car was overturned as he attempted to cross railroad tracks and was hit by an oncoming train. He was transported to Reading Hospital and listed in good condition on Tuesday.

"I just think it's very important that everyone needs to be cautious of crossing train tracks because they're moving a lot faster than what it appears when you're sitting at the crossing," said Weidner.

"Look both ways before you cross the tracks. Always be prepared that if one goes past, there might be another one coming in the other direction. So just look twice before you cross the tracks."