According to the Pottsville Republican Herald, police are seeking help investigating a violent two-vehicle collision Monday on Route 54 between Ashland and Girardville that sent both drivers to an area trauma center.
According to a hospital spokesperson, Brenda Sachleben, 45, of 232 W. Main St., Girardville, was listed in critical condition Monday afternoon. The other driver, Natalie Cherkoski, 41, of 414 W. New York St., Shenandoah, was listed in serious condition. Both were flown by two LifeFlight helicopters to Geisinger Medical Center, Danville.
The crash occurred about 10 a.m. between Big Mine Run Road and the "Y" intersection near Homesville, with fire units responding from Girardville and Ashland, ambulances from Girardville, Ashland and Shenandoah and police from Butler Township and Frackville.
The first fire official on scene was Ashland Second Assistant Fire Chief Charles Orth, who heard the alert from the Schuylkill County Communications Center as he was leaving an Ashland business a short distance away.
"I first heard it at Big Mine Run Road, but when I got there, there was nothing. I drove a bit more and saw that car (Chrysler)," Orth said. "This car (Hyundai) was smoking when I got here. I called it in (to the communications center) that people were trapped. They were both conscious when I arrived. She (Sachleben) was heavily entrapped."
After the crash, the Chrysler was in the westbound lane of Route 54 facing east while the Hyundai was well off the berm of the eastbound lane facing west.
Richard Weikel, who lives on Woodland Heights, a street in Big Mine Run, could hear the crash from his home.
"I couldn't see the crash from my house but it sounded like dynamite it was so loud," Weikel said. "I told my wife to call 911, that there was a bad accident, and I drove here."
Both vehicles sustained major damage, particularly to the front driver's sides. Using the "jaws of life," the Hyundai was cut apart to reach Sachleben. Members of the Rangers Hose Company, Girardville, and Washington Fire Company, Ashland, removed her from the car, assisted by a LifeFlight helicopter crew, who prepared Sachleben for the trip. Ambulances took both women to the Girardville Little League field, where a landing zone was set up.
Butler Township police Chief Edward Tarantelli was on scene as fire and ambulance crews rescued the crash victims.
Tarantelli said the cause of the crash is still undetermined. He is investigating with township Lt. Daniel Holderman, who is a state-certified accident reconstructionist.
"We don't know which direction they were going yet," Tarantelli said. "Based on the marks on the road, we have an impact point, but we're not sure which direction the vehicles were traveling until we can speak with the drivers. We'll also get search warrants for the 'black boxes' in each car that will help us determine the speeds and if there was any brake pressure applied during the time of the accident."
Tarantelli added that a tan Pomeranian dog was in Cherkoski's vehicle and ran off after the crash, possibly toward Big Mine Run and Ashland.
"To my knowledge, no one has found the dog yet," Tarantelli said. "Anyone who finds the dog can call us (township police). The dog's name is Bear."
Anyone with information about the crash or the dog can call Butler Township police at 570-875-4131.