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Arcadia University Student Dies After Tractor-Trailer Overturns on Vehicle on Pennsylvania Turnpike

Friends and family are mourning an Arcadia University student who died after a tractor-trailer fell onto her vehicle on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Bensalem Monday afternoon. The deadly wreck left the roadway blocked for more than 12 hours.

The accident occurred in the eastbound lanes of the Turnpike near Trevose Road around 2:50 p.m. Monday. Kelly C. O'Brien, 18, of Moorestown, New Jersey was driving in the left lane near mile-marker 350 when her 2006 Toyota and a big rig traveling in the center lane "made contact in a side swipe fashion," said Pennsylvania State Police.

The entangled vehicles went off-road, partially up an embankment, where the trailer tipped onto the smaller vehicle, trapping O'Brien in her car, said police. Crews used a crane to lift the big rig off her car. O'Brien died from her injuries however. [[377042751, C]]

Officials initially said other passengers were trapped inside the vehicle as well. They later told NBC10 however O'Brien was the only person inside her car.

The big rig driver -- identified by state police as Matthew Bradley of Benton Harbor, Michigan -- was also injured in the crash and taken to Frankford Torresdale Hospital where he was treated for non-life-threatening injuries. Officials also say the 2016 Peterbilt truck, which had markings for Baltimore, Maryland-based Cowan Systems on the trailer, was carrying 20,000 pounds of either liquid detergent or soap. [[377062361, C]]

Police closed all eastbound lanes of the Turnpike for hours as crews investigated. One lane reopened around 2 a.m. and all lanes reopened by 4 a.m., said Pennsylvania State Police.

O'Brien was a freshman at Arcadia University and majored in Communications.


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"Our condolences as well as our thoughts and prayers are with Kelly’s family, friends, and loved ones," wrote Arcadia University president Nicolette DeVille Christensen in a released statement. "We encourage any Arcadia community member who may want assistance or need to talk during this difficult time to visit Counseling Services on the ground floor of Heinz Hall or call the office at 215-572-2967. Walk-ins are available from 1 pm to 3 pm daily."

Over the past two years (prior to Monday's crash) 42 people were hurt and one died -- in a May 2015 wreck -- in crashes involving Cowan vehicles, said info from the Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Cowan drivers have also been cited for 181 violations during that time ranging from speeding to using the phone to brake violations.

NBC10 reached out to Cowan for comment.

Troopers continued their investigation into the wreck Tuesday and asked anyone who might have witnessed the crash to give the King of Prussia Barracks a call at 610-279-1605.

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