A church sitting at the bottom of a mountain in Pennsylvania was demolished by a runaway truck on Monday — and local police say that this isn’t the first time that the structure has been struck by an out of control truck.
The crash happened around 12:30 a.m. on November 19 on State Route 160 in Wellersburg, Pennsylvania, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
A truck driver hauling sand said that he stopped at the top of the mountain, but that as he came down, “he lost his brakes and didn’t have any air pressure,” explained Wellersburg Fire Chief Jamie Holbrook. The runaway truck slammed into the 168 year old Mount Harmony United Methodist Church building. Holbrook said that the impact of the crash “knocked the building off its foundation and the trailer is sitting sideways in the basement.” The church is considered to be a total loss.
The truck driver wasn’t seriously hurt but was taken to the hospital as a precaution. Luckily, no one was inside the church at the time of the crash because it had already been condemned after it was hit and damaged beyond repair by another runaway truck in April 2017.
Local authorities say that this is the fifth time that the church property has been hit by runaway trucks in the past six years. Earlier crashes took out the trees protecting the property and then a front walkway, before trucks started crashing into the church building itself. The church is only 10 yards off of the road, making it an even more prime target for runaway trucks.
Mt. Union United Methodist Church obliterated after a 100+ year history of services. A pastor there tells me they are keeping up the faith pic.twitter.com/CavOFsUswI
— Dillon Richards (@thedillonjames) November 19, 2018
Police believe that truckers often take State Route 160 in order to avoid the ever-increasing tolls on the Pennsylvania Turnpike and in order to steer clear of the Maryland State Police weigh station on I-68.
Locals have called for a truck ban on State Route 160, but PennDOT says that it already has plans in place to combat the runaway truck problem. Starting in 2020, they plan to construct a new truck pull-off area along with a runaway ramp and additional signage to warn truckers about the steep grade.
WELLERSBURG: A tractor-trailer slammed into the side of Mount Harmony United Methodist Church early Monday morning. Click the link below for updates on this crash throughout the day.https://bit.ly/2ToZz34
Posted by WJAC-TV News on Monday, November 19, 2018