Trucker killed by falling metal conduit inside tunnel

A section of electrical conduit fell from the roof of a Pennsylvania Turnpike tunnel, crashed through a windshield of a truck and struck the driver in the head, killing him, police said.

The truck driven by Howard Sexton III, 70, of Mickleton, New Jersey, continued on for a mile after the accident about 6 p.m. Wednesday inside the Lehigh Tunnel's southbound lanes, state police said.

Sexton was already dead when troopers and turnpike maintenance workers reached his truck on the shoulder of the highway.

The accident required traffic in both directions to be handled by the northbound tunnel, while the southbound lanes remained closed.

State police told The Morning Call of Allentown that several other vehicles also struck the section of conduit.

Turnpike spokesman Carl DeFebo said the Lehigh Tunnel's southbound tube is the only tunnel in the system in which electrical conduit is directly above drivers.

In older tunnels, the pipes are located with ventilation equipment in a parallel utility tunnel above the roadway.

The 4,500-foot southbound tunnel opened in November 1991. It is located near Slatington, about 15 miles north of Allentown.

A coroner said Sexton's next-of-kin have been notified and an autopsy is planned.

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