BURRELL TOWNSHIP — A truck driver from New England took heroin and smoked pot before his rig overturned and struck three other vehicles Monday morning on Route 22 near Blairsville, authorities said.
State police charged that Hunter Geslien, 40, with driving under the influence of drugs in a complaint filed at Blairsville District Court. Judge Jennifer Rega sent bond at $25,000 cash and sent Geslien to Indiana County Jail to await a hearing on Nov. 22.
State police reported Geslien, of Naugatuck, Conn., drove a westbound Kenworth tractor-trailer loaded with scrap metal crossed into the eastbound lanes, tipped over and hit vehicles waiting on Route 22 at a red signal at Corporate Campus Drive and Resort Plaza Drive at 7:45 a.m.
The criminal complaint does not identify the drivers and occupants of the other vehicles.
One was a van transporting two children to school in Saltsburg. The acting superintendent of the Blairsville-Saltsburg School District said the youngsters and their driver were transported to Indiana Regional Medical Center. Jeff Soles said the children were to be checked as a precaution, but didn’t comment on the condition of the driver, who works for Barker Transportation, a contracted carrier.
Geslien “had a slow raspy voice” when he talked to state troopers, and “his pupils were constricted, was slow in his movements and appeared tired,” according to a criminal complaint.
“The defendant related that he had used heroin and marijuana prior to the crash, and that there was marijuana in his vehicle,” Trooper Marnie Johns reported.
Police charged Geslien with recklessly endangering another person, driving under the influence of a controlled substance, possession of a small amount of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia — all misdemeanors — plus six summary traffic offenses.
PennDOT reported the eastbound lanes were closed until 1 p.m.
Black Lick, Blairsville, Coral-Graceton and Homer City firefighters were dispatched along with Citizens’ Ambulance Service paramedics at 7:48 a.m.