‘Truck Over Bridge’ Closes Part of 422 Tuesday

First responders (at top) gather Tuesday around a truck driver lying on a stretcher, following an accident on U.S. Route 422 at a bridge entrance about a half-mile west of its Sanatoga exit

‘Truck Over Bridge’ Closes Part of 422 Tuesday
The dump truck, lying on its side not far from Sanatoga Creek, after having tumbled down into the ravine
‘Truck Over Bridge’ Closes Part of 422 Tuesday
Lower Pottsgrove Police Chief Rick Bell, standing amid pieces of wrecked guard rail, points toward where the truck landed

LOWER POTTSGROVE PA – An accident in which the driver of a loaded dump truck lost control of the vehicle Tuesday (Jan. 17, 2023) at about 11:04 a.m., while traveling eastbound on U.S. Route 422 between its Armand Hammer and Sanatoga exits, crashed through guard rails at a bridge and tumbled dozens of feet down a steep ravine toward Sanatoga Creek.

The male driver, who has not been identified by name, age, or municipality, survived and told arriving responders he was uninjured. He was nonetheless attended to at the scene by emergency medical services personnel and taken to Reading Hospital, police reported.

The incident closed portions of the four-lane highway for hours.

Calls by passers-by in cars and trucks who claimed they witnessed the accident, and reportedly were said to have seen “the truck going off the bridge,” poured into Montgomery County emergency dispatchers. Other eastbound drivers behind the truck promptly stopped and ran to the bridge entrance in attempts to offer help before first responders came, police said.

Fire police closed access to eastbound 422 at the Armand Hammer Boulevard interchange, and then waved traffic already on the highway slowly past the scene in groups of about 15 vehicles at a time. Westbound 422 access remained available into the early afternoon, although drivers visibly slowed as they passed the scene on their left.

‘Truck Over Bridge’ Closes Part of 422 Tuesday

First responders, initially from the Sanatoga, Ringing Hill, and Pottstown fire companies and Goodwill Ambulance, and followed by others, worked quickly upon arrival. They secured yards of blue-and-white colored safety ropes to trees at the top of the ravine, and used them to carefully reach the truck. A front section of its cab, and a wheel-and-axle assembly (above), littered the highway.

Police who talked with the driver said he reported traveling east around a curve and down a slight hill leading toward the bridge. At that point, he added, his “load shifted” and he lost, and failed to regain, control. The truck was carrying gravel. Officers said it appeared the truck plowed into a concrete anchor for guard rails on the highway’s right shoulder leading to the bridge entrance, flattened the rails, went off the side of the bridge at an angle near its corner (below), and into the ravine.

‘Truck Over Bridge’ Closes Part of 422 Tuesday
‘Truck Over Bridge’ Closes Part of 422 Tuesday

The decades-old bridge (above), located behind the former Cutillo’s Restaurant in Sanatoga, carries east- and westbound lanes across the creek and the adjacent South Sanatoga Road. It towers about 100 feet above both. Vehicles filled with onlookers began gathering at its base near the road to stare up at the rescue-and-removal drama unfolding above them.

The bridge is scheduled for replacement by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation beginning later this year, due to age and deterioration.

Retrieving the truck

‘Truck Over Bridge’ Closes Part of 422 Tuesday
Some debris was light enough to be efficiently removed by a tow truck

Both sides of Route 422 were closed at mid-afternoon Tuesday so towing experts could begin the process of removing the truck from above.

Police and fire police units began monitoring and assisting traffic on East High Street, which gradually became clogged in both directions. Some families of Pottsgrove School District children riding buses, and those who are bused to private schools within the district, were notified by its administrators that their return home on alternate routes would be delayed by the closure.

‘Truck Over Bridge’ Closes Part of 422 Tuesday
For other debris and the truck body itself, cranes were needed

PennDOT bridge inspectors were called to the scene to ensure the structure’s integrity before large crane-equipped tow trucks (above) later in the afternoon began the slow process of lifting and then winching remaining parts of the truck up the hillside to be carted away.

‘Truck Over Bridge’ Closes Part of 422 Tuesday

Among the tasks was to clear more wreckage from the bridge roadside so crane operators could easily reach the truck. That was handled in part by a worker for PennDOT, armed with a saw which spewed sparks as it quickly cut through attached guard rails. Once the area was cleared, two separate cranes were positioned at angles above the truck (below), with hooks and cables attached to different parts of its body for control and stability.

‘Truck Over Bridge’ Closes Part of 422 Tuesday
‘Truck Over Bridge’ Closes Part of 422 Tuesday

Slowly and surely, the truck was finally hoisted to the bridge roadway (above). Its gravel load remained on the hillside below.

Photos by The Post