A tractor-trailer struck four members of an inmate road crew — killing one — in Frederick County, Maryland, Tuesday morning.
The tractor-trailer was traveling westbound on Interstate 70 near Route 17 in Myersville at about 9:30 a.m. when it swerved onto the shoulder, hitting a Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correction Services van before hitting the inmates, according to Maryland State Police.
“For unknown reasons, went on to the shoulder of the road, struck the trailer, then struck the van,” Maryland State Police spokesman Greg Shipley said. “A correctional officer was sitting inside the van, but fortunately he was uninjured. The tractor-trailer continued on the shoulder of the road and struck four inmates.”
Milton Pajak, 34, died at the scene, police said.
Wade Rickets, Robert Knight and Aaron Abrecht were taken to a hospital.
Two other inmates who were part of the six-inmate crew were not injured and were secured in another corrections van.
A dump truck with a trailer jackknifed into a median to avoid the first crash.
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"All I know is I came around the turn up here, and traffic was all stopped, and I kind of veered off to avoid making it worse than it already was," said Josh Lang, who avoided hitting the wreckage.
The driver of the tractor-trailer, 53-year-old Frenel Pierre of Columbia, stayed at the scene. He did not report any injuries.
State police are investigating why he swerved onto the shoulder.
Hazmat crews went to the scene to handle a fuel spill from the tractor-trailer's damaged fuel tanks.
Traffic was diverted to alternate routes, causing backups and delays.
"It's been pretty jammed packed, like bumper to bumper traffic,” said Jason Kershner, who runs a business along Route 40. “Slow down a little bit; sped up, slow down."