Logging truck crashes into cars, house on West Seneca Turnpike

The crash scene Tuesday afternoon / photo: Alex Dunbar

Syracuse Police and fire personnel responded to the Onondaga Hill area Tuesday after a logging truck ran out of control and damaged vehicles and a home in its path.

After she heard the crash, Kelsey Lavancher was afraid to look outside. What she eventually saw terrified her. A loaded lumber truck from Sam's Native American Tree Landscape Inc.had barreled down the hill - hitting multiple cars - before pushing a van across a lawn and into the front porch of a house at 603 West Seneca Turnpike. The back of the truck was filled with cut trees.

"I wasn't sure what to think, because I saw the van between the truck and the house, and from the side that I came from it didn't look so good," said Lavancher.

The Syracuse Fire Department said the truck's brakes failed at the top of the hill - something neighbors on this busy road often worry about.

Lawrence Davis says the road is well maintained in the winter but many drivers underestimate how steep it is.

"A lot of people do come speeding down the hill - but it happens. I smell a lot of brakes everyday. People pushing their brakes - it's a very steep hill," said Davis.

Linda Epps lives next door to the crash and said that out of control vehicles on West Seneca Turnpike has become too common. "We see this all the time. Two days ago there was somebody who peeled out on my lawn at 3:00 in the morning coming down the hill, because they were drunk or racing," said Epps.

As neighbors watched crews try to pull the pieces apart, many were relieved and amazed that the injuries to three people taken to the hospital did not appear to be life-threatening. A total of seven vehicles and eight people were involved in the incident.

"It's a very fast hill. There's a lot of traffic, there's detours around here because of valley drive being worked on - people need to slow down, pay attention," said Walker.

Syracuse Police say an inspection revealed the logging truck had inadequate brakes, which caused the crash. The truck's driver, 50-year-old Samuel Sickles of Jamesville, was ticketed for inadequate brakes, unregistered motor vehicle, and uninsured operation of a motor vehicle. Police say he will appear in Syracuse traffic court at a later date.

The crash diverted traffic on parts of West Seneca Turnpike for more than four hours.