On February 21, 70-year-old truck driver Howard Sexton of Mickleton, N.J., was killed instantly when a piece of electrical conduit smashed through his windshield while he was driving through the Lehigh Tunnel located on the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike (Interstate 476).
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is cooperating with a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) field investigation of the fatal incident, which is focusing on the conduits and conduit-support system in the tunnel ceiling.
“We are eager to understand exactly what caused this tragedy so we can work to ensure it doesn’t happen again,” said PA Turnpike CEO Mark P. Compton. “We will continue to cooperate fully with NTSB personnel throughout their investigation.”
NTSB investigators arrived on-site February 23 and will likely complete the inspection by February 28. NTSB officials expect to release a preliminary report in two to four weeks. A final, more detailed report — which would include probable cause and possible recommendations — may take up to a year.
The southbound tube of the Lehigh Tunnel, which originally opened Nov. 22, 1991, was temporarily closed on the evening of February 21 during incident cleanup and investigation and reopened in the afternoon of February 22 after needed repairs were made to ensure the tunnel was safe for travel.