4 killed in crash of van carrying Amish to funeral


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Four people were killed this morning when a van carrying Amish people to a funeral collided with a pickup truck.

The 6:40 a.m. accident occurred on state Route 308 just south of Kiester Road in Cherry Township, northern Butler County, Trooper Dan Kesten said.

The van was driven by A. Lewis Sweetapple, 76, of Clinton Township, Venango County, according to his wife, Hester, and son, Jim. They said he was taking six of their Amish neighbors to a funeral. Mr. Sweetapple and two of his passengers died.

Mr. Sweetapple, who was retired, regularly provided rides for his Amish neighbors in his Chrysler van and left on today's trip at 5:50 a.m.

For unknown reasons the minivan, which was headed south, crossed the center line and collided with the pickup truck, Trooper Kesten said this afternoon.

"None were wearing seatbelts in any of the vehicles," he said.

In addition to Mr. Sweetapple, two of his passengers died.

State police identified them as Fanny Detweiller, 72, of Emlenton, Venango County, and Eli Coblentz, 77, of Kennerdell.

Mrs. Detweiller's husband, Irvine Detweiller, 72, was flown by helicopter to UPMC Presbyterian.

Also killed was the sole occupant of the pickup truck, driver Charles Roxberry, 30, of Hilliards, Butler County.

The other injured occupants of the van were: Benedict Hostettler, 62, of Harrisville, Butler County, who was flown to Allegheny General Hospital; Cynda Detweiller, 34, of Kennderdell, who was flown to Presby; and David Coblentz, 46, of Kennderdell, who was also taken to Presby.

Trooper Kesten said there was no initial indication of speeding, a slippery roadway or a medical condition afflicting Mr. Sweetapple that might have caused the accident.

Route 308 was closed for hours in both directions.

More details in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Jonathan D. Silver: jsilver@post-gazette.com . First Published November 23, 2010 1:30 PM


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