When a driver traveling the wrong way on Interstate 80 near Youngstown, OH, collided head on with a Postal Service tractor trailer, the impact ruptured the fuel tank and the truck caught on fire.
The two men in the tractor trailer escaped serious injury, but the driver of the car died in the accident.
“The truck was on its way from Indianapolis to New Jersey,” said Youngstown Maintenance Manager Randall Tharp. “Once the fire was contained, Postal Inspectors offloaded the undamaged mail and it continued on to its destination.
“The trailer with the remaining mail was towed to a nearby salvage yard where it was secured,” Tharp said.
When the Youngstown Processing and Distribution Center (P&DC) got word of the accident, several maintenance employees were sent to help clear the remaining mail from the damaged trailer. “Maintenance Operations Supervisor Ron Noel said they immediately realized they could salvage most of the mail,” said Tharp.
Top row, from left, Building Equip. Mechanic Josh Bailey, Maintenance Mech. Joe Pavel, Sup. Maintenance Operations Bill Anderson and Maintenance Mech. Keith Lane. Bottom row, from left, Custodial Laborers Mark Bolina and Kevin Royal, and Building Equip. Mechanic Chuck Miller. Not pictured: Maintenance Opn.Supervisor Ron Noel, Letter Box Mech. John Brincko and Custodial Laborer George Kupec.
“This was no small task” said Noel. “Along with the mail there was a lot of debris — fiberglass from the roof of the trailer, burnt plastic from the pallets, and soot and ash from the fire.”
After making sure the chemicals that were used to extinguish the fire were non-toxic, the maintenance employees began the three day task of recovering the mail from the wreckage. A total of 23 hampers of mail were recovered and transported to the Youngstown P&DC.
At the processing plant, another team of maintenance employees sorted the mail according to destination.
“During our salvage efforts, a badly burned envelope containing $200 was recovered as well as an antique camera,” said Building Equipment Mechanic Josh Bailey, who was onsite at the salvage yard.
"The effort put forth by my employees during the last three days shows what can be accomplished with teamwork and dedication,” said Youngstown Plant Manager Barbara Fry.
"I’m proud of my employees and the effort they put forth,” added Tharp. “This was a very dirty job to do and these guys did it without any complaints. Like every employee, they respect the mail and want to make sure it reaches its destination.”