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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingMay 22 - May 28, 2019
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Medical Waste Recovery in PA

0 744acby Jim "Buck" Sorrenti

Geneva Truck & Equipment, Inc. based in Cochranton, Pennsylvania is owned by Clarence James Hafer and his wife Ruth Ann Hafer. The company, established in 1989, carries and sells a variety of used medium- and heavy-duty trucks and heavy-duty equipment.

On February 23, 2019 a tractor-trailer traveling on Interstate 79 in the south bound lane left the right side of the road, over-corrected and swerved in the passing lane. The front of the tractor went off the edge of the highway and into the soft berm pulling the truck further off the road. The truck traveled off the road for over 100-feet before rolling onto the driver's side.

The semi came to rest on a small mound in the median. The cab of the truck sustained heavy damage and was nearly half-full of mud and dirt that plowed in through the windshield as it slid along the ground. The driver was transported by ambulance to a local hospital to be treated for his injuries.

Geneva Truck received the call just before 7 a.m. from the Pennsylvania State Police requesting them to respond for a tractor-trailer rollover, with a HazMat cargo.

Doug Sekerski, the shop supervisor and primary wrecker operator for Geneva Truck, said, "The accident occurred at about 6:30 a.m. on I-79 south bound at the 130 mile marker. Mercer County, New Vernon Township. The walking floor trailer was loaded with medical waste on its way to disposal."

Sekerski responded in Geneva's 2008 Peterbilt 379 with a 35-ton Custom Built wrecker. Doug was the scene supervisor for this recovery operation. Operator Ryan Sekerski in their 1987 International Paystar 5000 with a factory installed Holmes 750. Geneva operator Devin Sekerski was on scene as a rigger and general help.

The state police, Sheakleyville Volunteer Fire Dept. and Life Force Ambulance Service were first on the scene, while the Geneva team arrived by 7:30 a.m.

"I felt we could use another heavy to safely upright and recover the semi," Doug informed, "due to the load and unknowns of the recovery, so we called our longtime friends at Minich's Towing from Oil City to assist in the recovery. Chris Hepler is the owner/operator whom we have had a longtime working relationship with and we have helped each other out many times over the years."

Minich's Towing & Recovery is a premiere towing company that has been serving their community and surrounding areas since 1929. Hepler responded with his 1994 Kenworth T800 with a Jerr-Dan 35-ton. Minich's operator Bill Boyer was on scene as a rigger and general help.

Doug informed, "Once on scene, after doing my walk around, we came up with the plan for the recovery. The plan was to upright the unit as one. The fully-loaded covered walking floor trailer with medical waste did not break or open and the load stayed intact. The tractor had major damage, but was still attached to the trailer. Off-loading was not an option!"

They started by removing the driveshaft and inspecting the air system. The tractor was holding air, but the air line to the trailer was broken from the accident; they would use truck air from the wrecker to air it up. A minor fuel leak was contained and not of issue.

"We positioned the trucks so to handle the recovery and winching in one motion without having to move the trucks multiple times," Doug explained. "The 35-ton Custom Built Wrecker was set up near the tractor and front of the trailer and the passenger winch line was run to the rear of the trailer where we placed a strap under and around the back of the trailer for lifting. The driver side winch was run down to a snatch block on the tailgate and directly between the tractor axles for a low pull on the tractor."

The 750 was set up for a low pull on the tractor for uprighting. Both lines were run to snatch blocks on the tailgate and to the casualty's front and rear axle. The Jerr-Dan 35-ton from Minich's was turned around and positioned at the rear of the trailer with a strap around the front of the trailer to help with the lifting and keeping the unit upright once the trailer was righted.

Once the unit was righted, the 750 was ready to pull the unit to the roadway. Winching from both heavies hooked to the trailer kept the unit stable and prevented the top-heavy casualty from wanting to go back over as the 750 pulled it to the road.

The 750 used a high line with a snatch block on the low side of the tractor and a single line from the tailgate on the high side of the tractor while winching. As the unit came out the 35-ton Jerr-Dan played out its cable as the 35-ton Custom Built kept tension on the line as the unit was brought out. A second line and strap from the Jerr-Dan would be placed on the trailer as the unit made its way out of the ditch.

Show Yours @ TIW
Do you have a recovery to share with TIW readers? Send some pics and info to our Field Editor Jim "Buck" Sorrenti at jimchaos69@yahoo.com ; your story may even be selected for print in American Towman magazine!
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