Investigation begins into why metal pole falls, kills driver in Lehigh Tunnel

WASHINGTON TWP., Pa. - The PA Turnpike Commission says its engineering department is still investigating the incident that left a 70-year-old man dead after a metal conduit fell from a tunnel on the Turnpike's Northeast Extension. 

The crash that occurred 6 p.m. Wednesday closed the southbound lanes of the highway from Mahoning Valley to Lehigh Valley overnight while Turnpike officials worked to repair the tunnel.

Around 8 a.m. Thursday, crews opened the northbound lanes to two-way traffic while officials continue to work in the southbound lanes.

The commission says the Turnpike will reopen Thursday after needed repairs are made and the Lehigh Tunnel is determined safe for travel. 

The PA Turnpike Commission says the Lehigh Tunnel is subject to a biennial inspection, with its most recent inspection in September 2016. It says the tunnel's next inspection is scheduled for September 2018. 

The Lehigh County coroner reported the 70-year-old driver, Howard Sexton was pronounced dead at the scene Wednesday around 10:20 p.m.

The coroner said Sexton, of Mickleton, New Jersey, was driving a tractor-trailer through the tunnel around 6 p.m. when a metal conduit fell from the tunnel, broke through the truck's windshield and hit him in the head.

Police said the truck kept going for a mile before finally stopping on the shoulder. Police found Sexton dead in the truck.

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Allentown, PA 18102




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