According to police, a pickup truck sheared a utility pole along State Route 837 around midnight. As a result, the road was closed between Miller and Commonwealth avenues.
Duquesne firefighters set up a detour in case wires from the dangling pole fell to the ground. The firefighters and first responders stayed at the scene to direct traffic.
About an hour later, a man drove through the road closure, weaved around fire trucks and nearly hit eight firefighters.
“I was at the scene,” Duquesne Police Chief Thomas Dunlevy said. “I heard the truck speed up as it was traveling through the emergency scene.”
Several firefighters had to jump out of the way to avoid being hit.
“Three of the first responders literally jumped out of the way to avoid being hit by the truck,” Chief Dunlevy said. “We’re very thankful that none of our emergency responders were killed that night.”
Police said the road was clearly blocked and traffic was being detoured onto Commonwealth Avenue.
“They had their gear on, reflective vests on top of that. They were using illuminated traffic wands to direct traffic wands to direct traffic. They had four-foot traffic signs warning of an emergency scene ahead,” Chief Dunlevy said.
The driver, later identified as 59-year-old Richard Tipe Jr., said he didn’t realize the road was closed. Police also said he passed all field sobriety tests.
“He claimed he didn’t know what he was doing. He thought the roadway was open. He thought that the emergency responders were directing him through a barricade and have men jump out of the way of his vehicle,” Chief Dunlevy said.
Tipe was arrested and taken to the Allegheny County Jail. He has been charged with eight counts of recklessly endangering another person in addition to a list of traffic citations.
His preliminary hearing is scheduled for next month.