Serious accident at Route 183, Route 419 in Bethel

William Weikel, 55, of Schuylkill County, died at scene, officials say

Posted: 7:08 AM EST Dec 24, 2013   Updated: 6:19 PM EDT Sep 16, 2013

Police closed Route 183 in Bethel Twp., Berks Co., for several hours Monday after the second deadly crash there in a week. Now, the police chief there is calling for changes from PennDOT.

Around 9:30 a.m., a pickup truck escorting a mobile home lost control, went airborne and crashed., police said.

The driver, William Weikel, was thrown from the truck and killed. 

Weikel, 55, of Zion Grove, Schuylkill Co., was working for Stauffer and Sons Trucking of Ringtown, Schuylkill Co., according to a company driver on the scene. The driver said the group was towing a mobile home from nearby Pine Grove.

After the initial accident, the mess grew.  A tractor trailer jackknifed a quarter-mile away, spilling diesel fuel all over the road.

"The roads were wet," said Chief Aaron Ogden, Bethel Twp. Police Dept. "The oil builds up on it. We have a lot of tractor trailers that come over the top... You have a rain like this and it just turns into ice."

This is the second deadly crash in just a week. Last Monday, a motorcyclist from Womelsdorf died rounding the exact same curve.

The driver towing the mobile home Monday said the group was driving below the speed limit.

"Very cautious," said Bill, who declined to give his last name, "and we were going, what -- 25 miles an hour? --  and I couldn't even stop."

Odgen said the winding stretch of 183 near the Schuylkill County line is often trouble.

"It's a bad road," he said. "There's a lot of accidents here."

According to Ogden, PennDOT graded the road surface to add traction, but he thinks the speed limit is too high.

"It is 55," he said. "I would like to see it lowered.'

PennDOT engineers base speed limit decisions on crash history, how steep a curve is and how fast most drivers are already going, said spokesman Sean Brown, who noted if they raise it too low, drivers will just ignore the new limit.

Truck driver Bob Kozenskie, who drives that stretch up to three times a week, agreed.

"It's not a bad road," he said. "Regardless of what the speed limit's going to be, people are going to do what they want to do, regardless."