NJTP opens after pickup hauling horses, big rigs crash

Three horses and a donkey are recovering at a farm in Jobstown. They are banged up, bruised, and some required stitches. But a vet treating the animals says they should be OK.

February 27, 2012 3:42:59 PM PST
A grinding crash brought traffic to a standstill on the New Jersey Turnpike Monday morning. Two tractor-trailers and a pickup towing a horse trailer collided before dawn, trapping the pickup truck driver in the wreckage for hours.

The accident happened along the southbound lanes of the turnpike near Route 195 in Robbinsville, Mercer County.

Sources tell Action News that the driver of the red pickup is expected to survive his injuries after being pinned under the tractor-trailer for so long.

Authorities have identified that driver as Anthony Soward, 43, of Willow Springs, Missouri. He was flown to Capital Health Regional Medical Center in Trenton and was listed in good condition Monday afternoon.

The drivers of the two tractor trailers have been identified as Jon Betz, 39, of Kinderhook, N.Y., who was treated at the scene and did not request any further treatment; and Ronaldo Climaco, 36, Elizabeth, N.J., who was taken by ambulance to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital at Hamilton, N.J. and treated for minor injuries.

The horses being hauled by the pickup are expected to survive as well. They were tossed around and slightly hurt due to the impact, but a veterinarian treating those animals says that they should recover.

Farmer Angie Haines handled the horses on the scene and she tells us, "[The horses] were definitely nervous and shaking in the trailer, but they all responded very well. We gave them a little bit of tranquilizer just to keep them calm and they all loaded into the next trailer like champs."

Three horses and a donkey are recovering at a farm in Jobstown. They are banged up, bruised, and some required stitches. But a vet treating the animals says they should be OK.

Dr. Kate Bender says, "We ran a little bit of fluids to this one to help stabilizer her. And then we're just gonna stitch up some of these cuts and be done, I think."

Police say a red pickup truck hauling the animals was rear-ended by a tractor-trailer at about 5:30 a.m. Monday. That drove the pickup into and under the tractor-trailer in front of it ? pinning the driver for almost three hours. He was eventually freed and air lifted from the scene to a Trenton hospital.

Rescue crews worked desperately to get the driver out, while a horse farmer was called in to help rescue the animals. That horse farmer, Larry Mendello, tells Action News, "They were trapped in the trailer. So all we did is she tranquilized him, we cut the gates open and we got them out."

Those helping to care for the injured animals say they believe the horses were being transported by an out of state hauler.

"We don't know who any of the horses are. We don't know who any of their owners are. So, right now we're just going to try and take care of them and keep them comfortable and do what we can for them," explained Angie Haines.

State Police says that traffic has reopened on the New Jersey Turnpike.