Police Seek Driver Of Van Who Caused Fiery Crash

Pictured is the remains of an oil field truck that was rear-ended on Route 20, Sheridan. Photo by the Forestville Fire Department

SHERIDAN – The driver of a van is currently being sought for being a third vehicle in a crash that caused I-90 and Route 20 to be shut down.

According to the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office, deputies responded to the area of Route 20 and Aldrich Road in the Town of Sheridan for a report of a personal injury accident reportedly involving a fuel carrying tractor trailer that was on fire as a result of the accident.

Through an investigation deputies determined that a westbound van had lost its rear wheel while driving. The wheel came off and struck a TPS Fuel truck being driven by 30-year old Jean M. Esquilin-Melendez of Dunkirk that was heading eastbound.

As a result of being struck by the wheel, deputies said the TPS Fuel Truck did travel into the oncoming lane. The TPS truck did then strike a pick up truck being driven westbound by 40-year old Herbert Overbeck of Silver Creek head on. The force of the impact did send the TPS truck partially over the Thruway bridge that the incident occurred on. This also caused the pickup truck and TPS truck, now lodged together, to catch on fire as both vehicles would become fully engulfed in flames. The TPS truck was reported to be carrying approximately 100 gallons of diesel fuel.

Overbeck was able to self extricate from his pick up truck and was taken by private vehicle to Brooks Memorial Hospital for care. Esquilin-Melendez was also able to self extricate from the TPS Truck and was flown by STAT Medevac to ECMC for treatment of burns and injuries he suffered.

According to deputies, the driver of the van involved continued on from the scene and attempt to hide his van from police which was located by a distance from the accident scene. As of 4 p.m. the driver is still being sought by deputies.

Deputies were assisted at the scene by the Chautauqua County Accident Reconstruction Team, Sheridan, Forestville, and Silver Creek fire departments, Alstar Ambulance, Chautauqua County EMS, Chautauqua County Hazmat, Chautauqua County Fire Police and STAT Medevac.

Deputies said the investigation into the incident is on going and facts could change as more information is determined. Both I-90 and Route 20 were temporarily closed as a result of the accident.


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