Lehigh Valley

Pa. Turnpike commission calls death a 'freak accident'

A horrific accident on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Investigators say 70-year-old Howard Sexton was driving this tractor trailer through the Lehigh Tunnel when a metal conduit broke off the tunnel, piercing through the windshield and hitting him in the head.

"It's unclear what the cause is but our investigation continues," said Carl DeFebo of the PA Turnpike Commission.

Police say the truck kept going for about a mile before finally stopping on the shoulder where officers found Sexton dead in the truck.

The incident — shutting down the southbound lanes of the highway from Mahoning Valley to Lehigh Valley while crews worked overnight to repair the tunnel.

"Engineers spent a good portion of the day out there gathering information, looking at some of the equipment that's inside the tunnel, trying to determine what the cause might be," DeFebo said.

DeFebo calls Sexton's death a freak incident. He says all Turnpike tunnels are inspected every other year.

"The most recent inspection was in September of 2016 and it's scheduled for another inspection this fall," he said.

According to the Lehigh County Coroner, Sexton was from Gloucester County, New Jersey.

Pennsylvania State Police are also investigating this incident along with the Turnpike Commission.

Police are asking anyone who may have witnessed the crash or anyone with information to contact state police.

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