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A Berks couple survived a close call when a truck hit their house, fire chief says

A tractor-trailer that rammed a Maxatawny Township home narrowly missed hitting both of the residents and left one stuck in rubble beneath the truck’s cab, officials said Wednesday.

That’s the account given by Kutztown Fire Company Chief Mike Russo, one of dozens of responders who helped rescue homeowner Donald Smith following the Monday night crash.

The home is just a few feet from the edge of Route 222, also known as Kutztown Road, and Church Road, and has been struck by vehicles a number of other times in recent years, Russo said.

The latest impact was the most serious, though, with the rig’s cab fully inside the three-story home and Donald and Linda Smith fortunate to have survived, Russo said.

A tractor-trailer ran into a home along Route 222 in Maxatawny Township on Monday night.(Photo courtesy of John Ungureanu)

The truck was heading north at about 8 p.m. when the crash occurred, according to state police, who are still investigating the cause.

Russo gave this account:

Donald Smith has just gotten a drink from his refrigerator and stepped to the side to take a sip when the tractor-trailer crashed into the house at the kitchen, sending the refrigerator flying.

A kitchen counter hit Smith in the back and knocked him down, and he ended up covered in debris underneath the truck’s cab.

When responders arrived they couldn’t see or hear Smith, so they formed a line and began removing the bricks that were on top of him one by one until he was free.

If Smith had not taken that step away from the fridge prior to the impact, he would have been struck directly by the tractor-trailer, Russo said.

“He was literally seconds away from not being here anymore,” the chief said.

Linda Smith was also fortunate because she was in the living room located next to the kitchen, he said.

The driver, Richard Crenshaw, 62, Baltimore, was trapped in the cab after the crash and had to be freed by firefighters.

Donald Smith and Crenshaw suffered minor injuries and were treated at a local hospital, Russo said. Linda Smith was not hurt.

The truck was removed from the home Tuesday morning, and as of Tuesday night Maxatawny Township zoning officials had not yet decided whether the home is repairable or must be condemned, Russo said.

“We’ve been there before,” Russo said, referring to the previous accidents at that address, including one in spring in which the driver of a car who hit the home was injured.

Upon hearing the severity of Monday night’s crash Russo called for the Lehigh County Special Operations Team’s technical rescue group, which includes both Lehigh and Berks firefighters who helped make sure everyone was safely removed.

Upon arrival there was concern that the house could collapse, but the technical rescue responders made sure it was stable enough to proceed, Russo said.

The response went as smoothly as possible in large part because of the teamwork among those who turned out, he said.

But Russo sympathized with how scary the incident must have been for the Smiths.

“It had to have been like an explosion going off in there,” he said.

Source: Berkshire mont

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