Head-on crash claims man's life on Route 222
BY RYAN ROBINSON, Staff Writer
One man was killed and another injured in a head-on crash on Route 222 in West Earl Township on Thursday morning, police reported.
Killed in the accident was Victor M. Stimmell, 36, of Lititz, township police Chief Brian Brandt said.
Stimmell's car and a pickup truck driven by Leverne Smith, 61, of Reading, crashed at 7 a.m. in the northbound lanes of Route 222 just north of the Peach Road overpass, he said. It is south of the Route 322 intersection.
Stimmell's red Ford Five Hundred car from the southbound lanes crossed over the median and struck Smith's Ford Ranger pickup truck head-on in the northbound lanes, Brandt said.
Stimmell was pronounced dead at the scene by Lancaster County Deputy Coroner Richard Graff.
Smith was trapped in his vehicle before West Earl firefighters freed him at 7:24 a.m., according to a county radio dispatch.
He was taken by ambulance to Lancaster General Hospital for treatment, Brandt said. The chief did not know the severity of Smith's injuries.
Lancaster County Coroner Dr. Stephen Diamantoni said an external examination of Stimmell was being conducted Thursday. He had not decided at that point if an autopsy would be necessary.
Brandt said police were still investigating to determine why Stimmell's car crossed the median.
A man who said he witnessed the wreck blamed it on a motorist trying to pass another vehicle.
Kevin Beers, 21, of Reinholds, said he was driving south on Route 222 on his way to his job at Sechan Electronics in Lititz.
His and two cars in front of him were traveling in the left lane at about 65 mph, Beers said.
The car directly in front of Beers -- he wasn't sure of its color -- moved to the right lane to try to pass a red car in front of it, he said.
"When he tried to go back in the left lane (ahead of the red car), there wasn't enough room to pass," Beers said.
"The red sedan swerved left and fish-tailed to try to avoid hitting him," he said. The red car "went across the grass median, missed one car going in the opposite direction but hit a pickup truck straight-on."
"I saw him fish-tail and heard tires screeching and a loud bang," Beers said of the red car.
"It was devastating. I started shaking right away. I never want to see anything like that again."
Beers pulled his vehicle onto the shoulder and called 911.
He said the motorist who tried to pass the red car might have driven away without stopping after the incident.
Beers said he was upset that someone was killed because of "someone trying to save a couple extra minutes getting somewhere."
Traffic on Route 222 North was detoured at the Route 772 interchange until 10:30 a.m. so the vehicles and debris could be removed from the roadway, Brandt said.
Another accident north of the fatal wreck on Route 222 in Ephrata Township also snarled traffic on Thursday.
Route 222 South was closed at Route 322 after the noninjury accident involving three tractor-trailers and a passenger car shortly after 9:30 a.m., county dispatchers said.
Fuel and antifreeze from one of the trucks reportedly spilled on the roadway.
That wreck scene wasn't cleared until shortly after 12:30 p.m.
West Earl police ask anyone who witnessed the fatal crash to call them at 859-1411.