2011-09-15 / From Days Gone By

30 Years Ago

From The Files Of September 10, 1981


An old fear returned to Mc-

Connellsburg last Thursday when a runaway beer truck roared down Route 16 off Mercersburg Mountain into the east end of town and smashed through Berkstresser’s Maytag Appliance store, killing one man and injuring five others. The accident is apparently the first fatal runaway to have occurred in the borough since the early 1950s. And it is believed to be the first-ever runaway since the mid- 1960s, when the Route 30 bypass was built to put an end to periodic runaways frequently terrorizing the town. Thursday’s accident occurred just a few minutes after 11 a.m. Ralph Berkstresser Jr., 55, Harrisonville, was pronounced dead by Dr. Russell McLucas at Fulton County Medical Center as a result of being struck by the truck while he was standing inside the appliance store and being dragged through the store and pinned under the truck. Berkstresser’s two brothers, co-owners of the appliance store, were also injured in the crash. Ronald W. Berkstresser, 57, McConnellsburg, was taken to the Medical Center with two broken ribs, a punctured lung and other chest injuries and then transferred to Washington County Hospital, where he was listed in stable condition. Neil Berkstresser, 44, Harrisonville, was also transported to the Medical Center with bruises where he was listed in stable condition and released the same day. The driver of the truck was transferred to Chambersburg Hospital and a passenger in the truck was transferred to Chambersburg Hospital. And Josephine M. Deshong of McConnellsburg, the driver of a car swiped by the truck, was treated and released at the Medical Center. The truck lost its brakes while traveling west on Route 16. Just about in front of the little Duchess Restaurant, the driver and his companion jumped from the vehicle. The truck continued on into the intersection of Route 16 and Lincoln Way, hitting the median dividers and striking the Deshong car on the right rear. The truck crossed over Lincoln Way into the Sheetz Kwik Shopper parking lot, passing narrowly between a utility pole and the concrete wall between Richards Auto Sales and the Sheetz property. In the Sheetz lot, the truck smashed into a car being filled up, knocking the car 55 feet into the side of Berkstresser’s store. The truck then hit the east wall of Berkstresser’s, passed through the store and crashed through the northwest corner, coming to a stop outside the building. Police reported that Ralph Berkstresser was struck by the truck inside the building, carried through the building and pinned under the left front of the truck. He was trapped for about 10 minutes before a tow truck was brought into jack up the truck and free him. Dr. McLucas rushed to the scene and along with ambulance crew tended to the victim.

Specials at the IGA: Hills Bros. coffee, $5.89, 3 lbs.; Campbell’s tomato soup, 4 for 99 cents; Domino lt. brown sugar, 2 for $1; Crisco oil, $2.48, 48 ozs.; Scott towels, 59 cents.

The Red Sox took the Fulton County League championship this year, recapturing the title they won last year. Members of the team are: Toby Mellott, Darin Hamil, Mike Kendall, Kelly Weaver, Kevin Fowler, Travis Mellott, Alan Shoop, Bradley Truax, Howard Mellott, Dale Shoop, Brent Culler, Glen Briggs. Coaches were Don Fowler, Wayne Seville and John Kendall.

Births at the Medical Center: a daughter to Mr. and Mrs. Matthew Cochran of Mc- Connellsburg on September 1; a son to Mr. and Mrs. Scott Coble of Berkeley Springs on August 31; a son to Mr. and Mrs. Zane Gilmore of Willow Hill on August 31; a son to Mr. and Mrs. Dennis Hunsigner of Shade Gap on September 3; a son to Mr. and Mrs. William Doyle of Dry Run on September 3; a son to Mr. and Mrs. Henry Truax of Mc- Connellsburg on September 2.

Marriage licenses: Donald Sweger, Waterfall, and Yvonne Wright, Wells Tannery; Andrew Deshong, McConnellsburg, and Glenda Rouzer, Harrisonville.

Deaths: Walter Truax Sr.; Chester R. Abbott, McConnellsburg; Guy B. Snyder, Hancock; Thomas Cupillari, Orbisonia; Lewis E. Fix, Mercersburg; Geneva Mueller, Oak Ridge, N.C.; Emma Sipes, McConnellsburg; Walter Largent, Chambersburg.

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