An out-of-state truck driver will serve as much as two years in prison after his rig tipped over and crashed into several other vehicles last year on Route 22 near Blairsville.
Hunter R. Geslien, of Naugatuck, Conn., admitted that he took heroin and smoked marijuana minutes before he drove a tractor-trailer loaded with scrap metal down Penn View Mountain in Burrell Township at 7:45 a.m. Nov. 13.
State police said Geslien swerved the Kenworth truck as it sped toward the intersection with Resort Drive, and the truck overturned and damaged seven other vehicles waiting at the red signal.
Noah Overman, of Center Township, had to be extricated from the wreckage of his crushed Toyota Tacoma pickup truck and was treated for minor injuries at Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown.
Indiana County Judge Thomas Bianco on Friday sentenced Geslien, 41, to serve one to two years in a state correctional institution for his guilty plea to recklessly endangering another person, and a concurrent term of three to six months in prison for driving under the influence of a controlled substance.
Under terms of a plea agreement, prosecutors set aside eight other charges including possession of marijuana for personal use, possession of drug paraphernalia and six summary traffic violations.
The wreck was captured on a dramatic dashboard video recorded in a student transport van contracted by the
Armstrong Indiana Intermediate Unit to carry children to Saltsburg Elementary School.
In the video, driver Teri Corrado is heard reacting to the approaching truck as it crossed from the westbound lane and bore down on her vehicle in the eastbound lane. Corrado shifted gears and reversed the Dodge Caravan while Geslien’s truck tipped over onto the other vehicles and spilled its cargo of metal shavings onto the highway.
Corrado, of Diamondville, later was commended by ARIN and Barker Inc., the contracted bus company, for her fast thinking and evasive action, saying the move prevented injury and possibly saved the lives of two young students, an adult caretaker and herself.
Paramedics transported Corrado, the children and aide George Wanchisn, 60, of Homer City, to Indiana Regional Medical Center for precautionary examinations.
State police identified the other motorists involved in the pileup:
• Jonathan Sikora, 39, of Export, Westmoreland County, driver of a BMW Z4 that was hit by the truck as it overturned. Sikora was not injured, and drove his vehicle from the scene.
• Jessica Kelly, 35, of Delmont, Westmoreland County, driver of a Chrysler Town & Country minivan that was pushed into two other vehicles waiting at the red light. Kelly wasn’t injured.
• Samuel Fleming, 57, of Belle Vernon, Fayette County, driver of a Ford F-150 that sustained damage to the driver’s side and rear end. Fleming escaped injury and drove his vehicle away.
• Dwayne Zimmerman, 56, of Latrobe, Westmoreland County, driver of a 1500 model vehicle that was caught between the others in the line of traffic. Zimmerman was uninjured.
• Joshua Miller, 37, of Cranberry Township, Butler County, driver of a Honda Pilot that sustained minor damage to the driver side from other vehicles and debris. Miller was not injured and drove his vehicle from the scene.
After being rescued from his truck, Geslien admitted to investigators that he smoked marijuana and took heroin not long before the wreck.
He spent two weeks in the Indiana County Jail following his arrest, and was allowed to remain free on $25,000 bond while he awaited court action. Greensburg attorney Matthew Makoski represented Geslien at the outset of the case, and the Indiana County public defender’s office counseled him beginning in early March through his plea and sentencing.
In addition to jail time, Bianco ordered Geslien to pay unspecified fines and at least $481 in costs of prosecution.
This article was first published by Indiana Gazette.