Police: Driver of milk tanker choked on soda, plowed into Hermitage auto dealership

A tanker truck crashed into an auto dealership in Hermitage, Pa.

HERMITAGE, Pa. (WKBN) – Police say the driver of a tanker truck hauling milk was choking on a sip he took from a can of Dr. Pepper when he crashed into an auto dealership in Hermitage.

According to police, Thomas Young, 58, of Royal Center, Indiana, was traveling north on N. Hermitage Road when he went off the road in front of Wal-Mart, jumped the curb, grazed a utility pole, traveled down an embankment and into the lot of Montrose Buick-GMC Cadillac, 1435 N. Hermitage Rd.

The tanker ran into several vehicles on display, one of which was pushed into the showroom of the building. A total of 23 new vehicles were damaged.

April Williams said she was at the Hermitage Wal-Mart when she heard a loud crash. Williams and another woman ran over to the truck driver and helped him out of the truck. The driver told her what happened.

“He said that he was taking a drink, and he choked on whatever it was. It went down the wrong pipe, and he was choking and he said he was coughing so hard he literally couldn’t see anything and just lost control and hit the pole,” Williams said.

Hermitage Fire Chief John Flynn said he is thankful the accident happened on a Sunday when the dealership is closed.

“There was nobody here. No employees here. Montrose is only closed one day a week, and it happened to be Sunday that this happened so they were very lucky,” Flynn said.

In inspection by the Pennsylvania State Police revealed there were no mechanical issues with the vehicle.

No injuries were reported.

Police cited Young for careless driving.

The milk truck is owned by Niemeyer Milk Transfer, Inc., of Cedar Lake, Indiana.

“A lot of lives were spared,” Williams said. “It could have went really badly because he was fine. I’m sure the dealership’s not happy, but at least no one physically got hurt.”

There are still plenty of other vehicles on the lot at Montrose Buick GMC Cadillac. Labor Day weekend is a big draw for dealerships, as they transition from 2015 to 2016 models.

Despite it all, Montrose General Manager Todd Mullen said it was a busy holiday for his employees.

“They’re not distracted by it, and the customers have been fantastic about it, so we’re back in business,” Mullen said.

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