Serious crash closes part of Penn Street Bridge in Berks

Driver who caused crash facing charges, police say

WEST READING, Pa. - The driver of an SUV is facing criminal charges in a crash that seriously injured an 18-year-old man and closed part of the Penn Street Bridge between West Reading and Reading for more than three hours.

The crash happened around 9 a.m. Thursday, when a westbound SUV crossed the center median in the area of the West Shore Bypass interchange and struck an oncoming car, police said. Another car was also hit.

"I am surprised to see something like this, especially because nothing like this happened when it was icy," said onlooker Natan Pulieo. "It's just happening now."

The SUV rolled onto its roof. The roof of another car had to be removed by rescue personnel working to free the 18-year-old Shillington man behind the wheel.

The three drivers were taken to Reading Hospital, with the 18-year-old having suffered the most serious injuries, police said.

"I am very surprised that it's not fatal," said onlooker George Patno.

"I'm happy no one died," Pulieo added. "That was a good thing."

The SUV's driver, identified by police as Tilaye Zelleke, 29, of Blandon, is facing charges for causing the crash and not being properly licensed, according to West Reading police Chief Stephen Powell.

The eastbound side of the bridge and the ramp from Route East to Penn Street into center city remained closed until almost 12:30 p.m. while officials tried to figure out what happened and crews worked to clear the wreckage.

"Other than some minor fender-benders, this is the first accident since construction started that would have us close down a significant time portions of 422," Powell said.

Anyone who witnessed the crash is asked to contact the West Reading Police Department at 610-373-0111.


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