Traffic tie-ups on Interstate 70 in Putnam County, caused by road construction near the Putnamville exit, was the location of a fatal accident that ended the life of a Pennsylvania man Tuesday afternoon.
Indiana State Police at Putnamville said Robert L. Welty, 58, of Parker, Pa., died after the tanker truck he was driving collided with the back of a semi-tractor trailer that was stopped in the westbound lanes at around 4:40 p.m
ISP Lt. George Schneider told the BannerGraphic that it appeared Welty did not see the traffic that was stopped in front of him, causing him to strike the back of the flatbed semi, driven by Eric R. Freeman of Kentucky.
Freeman was not injured in the accident. Welty, however, was pronounced dead at the scene.
"It just demolished the tanker," Cloverdale Township Fire Chief Kerry Shepherd said of the accident.
Traffic was backed up for miles following the accident and work crews spent the next five hours cleaning up debris that had been strewn across the interstate. Fortunately the tanker, carrying 6,000 gallons of motor oil, did not rupture in the accident.
Still firefighters had to use several bags of "insta-sorb" to contain fluids spilled from the truck on the roadway.
Assisting at the scene were Operation Life medics, Reelsville Fire, Cloverdale Police, Putnam County Sheriff's Department, Curtis Wrecker Service and Goode Excavating Emergency Response.
"It was a real mess out there," Shepherd said.
Law enforcement say Tuesday's accident is a painful reminder of the importance of paying attention to traffic in construction zones.
Schneider said troopers have been assigned to special patrols in the area since the construction began earlier this summer and are warning drivers to slow down.
"We have a lot of troopers out there and they are writing a lot of tickets," Schneider said. "People just have to start paying attention in the construction zones."
From the fire department side, Shepherd said firefighters responded to an eight-car accident in the same construction zone a few weeks ago. Also there have been a number of rear-end accidents, but none as serious as the one that occurred on Tuesday.
"They're having a lot of problems out there," Shepherd said.