Posted at: 10/25/2013 8:41 AM
Updated at: 10/27/2013 12:33 AM
By: Steve Flamisch
State Police closed the southbound lanes of the Thruway between exits 24 and 22 for several hours as investigators tried to piece together what happened.
Photo: Lou Swierzowski / WNYT
BETHLEHEM -- A truck driver was run over by his own rig and killed early Friday morning on the New York State Thruway, State Police said.
Jeffrey Schertzer, 45, of Lemoyne, Pa., had pulled his tandem tractor-trailer to the right shoulder of the southbound lanes just south of exit 23, State Police said. While Schertzer was outside of the vehicle, it began to roll forward.
"We believe that the driver attempted to get back to the cab to stop the vehicle, and he was run over by the axles of the trailer," State Police Sgt. Thomas Ferritto told NewsChannel 13.
The truck continued to roll across the southbound lanes before piling into the guide-rail in the median, blocking the flow of traffic, Ferritto said. Other drivers called 911 at about 3:11 a.m.
"It was called in actually as a jackknifed tractor-trailer," Ferritto said. "When the patrol got there... there were a bunch of truck drivers. I guess they tried to render aid, but it was pretty much obvious there was not much they could do."
Schertzer died at the scene.
State Police closed the southbound lanes of the Thruway between exits 24 and 22 for several hours as investigators tried to piece together what happened. It was still unclear late Friday why Schertzer had pulled over, and why the truck rolled forward.
"It could be brakes," Ferritto said. "It could be chaffed air lines. It could be anything."
Investigators will examine the truck, as well as the driver's history. A final determination could take several days to several weeks.
A spokesman for the trucking company, Old Dominion Freight Lines, did not immediately return a phone call. Several people who know Schertzer did not respond to inquires made through social networking.
"It's just tragic," Ferritto said. "It's sad... (The) poor guy was just out doing his job."
All lanes of the Thruway are back open.