Straps Corroded on Pennsylvania Turnpike Tunnel Conduit That Killed Truck Driver, NTSB Says

Howard Sexton died when a metal conduit slammed into the windshield of his big rig as he drove through the Pennsylvania Turnpike's Lehigh Tunnel in February

What to Know

  • An electrical conduit from the ceiling of the Lehigh Tunnel went through the windshield of southbound tractor trailer.
  • Troopers found the damaged big rig while investigating a series of minor crashes caused by the debris.
  • Howard Sexton of Mickleton, New Jersey, died from his injuries.

Federal investigators say steel straps holding electrical conduits to the ceiling of a Pennsylvania Turnpike tunnel had corroded before a portion of conduit crashed through the windshield of a tractor-trailer, killing the driver.

The National Transportation Safety Board on Tuesday issued a preliminary report on the Feb. 21 accident inside the Northeast Extension's Lehigh Tunnel, about 70 miles north of Philadelphia.

The report says a 2016 inspection had found the corrosion and that the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission was in the process of awarding a contract to replace the straps in the 4,379-foot tunnel when the accident happened.

Howard Sexton of Mickleton, New Jersey, was killed when the section of conduit struck him in the head. 

Lehigh Tunnel Pa Turnpike Northeast Extension Howard Sexton
NBC10 / Family Photo
Howard Sexton died when a metal conduit struck his big rig as he drove through the Lehigh Tunnel on Feb. 21, 2018. See Larger Image

Sexton, who had grown children, had driven for Raymour & Flanigan for the past 19 years, his family said. He had planned on retiring this summer. The furniture company issued a statement saying Sexton was a "beloved member" of its South Jersey team.

The NTSB plans to identify a cause in its final report along with safety recommendations.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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