West Mead crash

A 16-year-old Cochranton driver fell asleep at the wheel, according to West Mead police, and crashed into the side of a West Mead Township bucket truck on June 28, sending both drivers to the hospital and leaving the township without a key piece of equipment.

WEST MEAD TOWNSHIP — The effects of a sleeping 16-year-old driver’s crash into a township bucket truck late last month were still being felt Tuesday during the township supervisors' monthly meetings.

Supervisors spent much of their study session Tuesday considering used bucket trucks to replace the vehicle believed to have been left irreparable by the crash.

The 16-year-old Cochranton boy who caused the crash was traveling northwest on Franklin Pike near the Stauffer Road intersection at approximately 11:36 a.m. June 28 when he fell asleep at the wheel, according to West Mead police.

The township’s bucket truck was traveling southeast at the same time. The 16-year-old’s 2008 Hyundai SUV crossed the center line and struck the bucket truck on the rear driver’s side, causing extensive damage to both vehicles.

Both drivers involved were transported to Meadville Medical Center following the crash. The township employee driving the bucket truck sustained an injury to his lower leg and has been cleared to return to work, according to Supervisor John Shartle, who also serves as the township’s roadmaster.

Additional information on the condition of the 16-year-old was unavailable.

Charges against the 16-year-old driver are pending, according to West Mead police.

With police wrapping up their investigation into the crash, township supervisors turned to the internet in hopes of finding a replacement vehicle.

“We can’t live without it,” Shartle said during the study session. “This is the worst (vehicle) in the fleet that could’ve been damaged.”

The 1996-model truck damaged in the crash was purchased in 2014 from the City of Meadville in exchange for $13,500 in work on city projects performed by the township road crew over the ensuing two to three years, according to Tribune reporting at the time. Equipped with a hydraulic boom lift approximately 40 feet long and a bucket for lifting workers, the truck was primarily used for tree trimming over township roads.

Replacing the vehicle will be difficult, according to Shartle, given its low cost and good condition. The truck came to the township with a refurbished lift and low mileage.

“That thing was like a new truck,” Shartle said during the study session. “It only had 75,000 miles.”

In addition, it was unclear if the driver’s insurance coverage of up to $50,000 would cover the entire cost of a replacement vehicle, according to Shartle. If necessary, the remainder of the cost would be covered by the township’s policy, Secretary-Treasurer Jill Dunlap said.

The crash also damaged tree trimming power tools worth approximately $2,700, Shartle said. Tree trimming projects planned for Liberty Street, Townline Road, Springs Road, Tamarack Drive and elsewhere are on hold for the time being with no bucket truck and no funding to support the high cost of hiring contractors to perform such work.

“We’ve got to do something fairly soon,” Shartle said of replacing the damaged bucket truck. 

Mike Crowley can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at mcrowley@meadvilletribune.com.

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