A 39-year-old Pennsylvania woman was hospitalized on Thursday, February 4, after she was struck by an 18-wheeler while tending to her vehicle on the side of the road. Reports name the victim as Barbara Czujak, a resident of Scranton.
Czujak was driving on Interstate 80 in New Jersey at about 1:30 a.m. when the Pontiac Montana she was driving broke down. Czujak pulled over onto the shoulder of the highway and got out of the vehicle. She walked around to the front of the minivan to check under its hood when a tractor trailer veered off of the road and collided with her vehicle, which in turn struck Czujak, police reports say.
Paramedics rushed Czujak to Hackettstown Regional Medical Center, where she was airlifted by Medevac helicopter to Morristown Memorial Hospital. Doctors treated Czujak for leg injuries and admitted her for observation. Her injuries are not life threatening.
The driver of the rig was identified as Mircea Airinei of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Airinei told police that he rounded a turn and did not see Czujak’s minivan on the shoulder. Investigators haven’t determined what may have caused Airinei to lose control of the truck, which crashed into a guardrail after hitting Czujak’s van.
A Haz-Mat squad from Warren County, New Jersey cleaned the area where the crash took place after diesel fuel spilled from the 18-wheeler.
Every year, more than 500,000 accidents involving 18-wheel tractor trailers occur on American roads and interstates. Common causes of these frequently catastrophic accidents include blind spots, brake failure, driver fatigue or drowsiness, tire separation or other failure, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, unsecured cargo, and dangerous driving practices.