A seven vehicle crash killed three people and closed Interstate 78 eastbound most of Monday.
Traffic was slowing in the eastbound lane at mile marker 41.5 in Greenwich Township at 1:15 p.m. when a tractor trailer was unable to slow down and rear ended a car, said State Police Trooper David Beohm.
Seven total vehicles were involved in the accident, including four car fires and three fatalities Robert Rosner, 52, Allentown; Edward Dearden, 57, York; and Theresa Dearden, 54, York.
Vincente Espinvera, 56, Belleville, N.J., was driving a commercial truck tractor pulling trailer eastbound in the left lane when he failed to observe stopped or slowing traffic ahead, according to a state police report. The tractor trailer truck rear ended a car causing initial impact.
“The driver and sole occupant of (the car) was fatally injured,” according to the report. The driver was Rosner.
Police reported that the impacted force created by the truck pushed Rosner’s car into other vehicles creating a chain reaction crash. As Rosner’s car was pushed forward striking other cars, it burst into flames. The fire spread to two other cars along the center median, according to the police report.
“One of the units contained two occupants (Edward and Theresa Dearden) who were unable to escape and died. The driver of the other vehicle was able to escape with minor injuries prior to the vehicle becoming fully engulfed,” according to the state police report.
When Espinvera observed the fire he attempted to back his truck away from the fire. Due to half of Rosner’s car being stuck under his truck, Espinvera drug the burning car with him as he backed up about 70 feet. The fire spread to the truck, according to the report.
“Espinvera was able to escape the truck before it became fully engulfed. None of the other drivers or occupants suffered life threatening injuries,” according to the report.
Espinvera complained of chest pains and was transported to St. Joseph Medical Center, according to Beohm.
I-78 eastbound at mile marker 35 and westbound at mile marker 45 was closed majority of the day. As of about 6 p.m., westbound lanes were open but eastbound lanes remained closed until about 10:30 p.m.
Assisting at the scene were Kutztown Ambulance, Kutztown Fire Company, Weisenberg Twp. Fire Dept. and Hamburg Fire Dept.