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Barton man killed in early morning vehicle crash near Hancock

October 7th, 2016 by WCBC Radio

Maryland State Police have identified the persons killed and injured in two early morning crashes on eastbound I-70 in western Washington County that caused the closure of the interstate for more than eight hours.

The driver killed in the first crash is identified as Allen W. Kifer, 60, of Barton, MD  He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver injured in the second crash is identified as Robert L. Watkins, 53, of Lakeland, GA.  He was transported by ambulance to Meritus Medical Center in Hagerstown where he remains.

The first crash occurred shortly before 2:30 a.m. today on eastbound I-70 near Hancock.  The preliminary investigation indicates Demetrio G. Catapang, 54, of Ontario, CA, was driving a 2016 Freightliner tractor trailer eastbound on I-70 when, for unknown reasons, he lost control and the vehicle jackknifed across all eastbound lanes of the interstate.  A 2008 Chevrolet HHR driven by Kifer struck the jackknifed tractor trailer.

The investigation indicates Kifer got out of his car and was near his vehicle when a second tractor trailer passing by struck him and his vehicle.  The driver of that tractor trailer is identified as Timothy C. Beckering, 38, of Stanton, PA, who was operating a 2016 Freightliner.

About 20 minutes later, as traffic backed up behind the first crash scene, a second crash occurred about one mile west of the first.  The investigation indicates Alexander Evchenko, 54, of Quebec, was stopped in traffic in a 2007 Freightliner tractor trailer.  His vehicle was rear-ended by a tractor trailer driven by Watkins, causing a fire in the striking vehicle.  Watkins was operating a 2009 Freightliner.

Troopers reported heavy rain in the area with reduced visibility at the time of the crashes.  The causes and contributing factors in both crashes remain under investigation at this time.

Due to the two crash scenes, Maryland State Police had to close eastbound I-70 back to the Pennsylvania line.  MDOT State Highway Administration CHART personnel set up detour on Rt. 522 through the town of Hancock and back to eastbound I-70. Eastbound I-70 was completely reopened at about 11:30 a.m. today.

The Maryland State Police Crash Team responded to conduct the investigations.  They were assisted by troopers from the Hagerstown Barrack and experts from the Maryland State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division.

No charges have been placed at this time.  When both investigations are completed, State Police investigators will be reviewing the cases and any charges with the Washington County State’s Attorney’s Office.

All motorists are reminded to check or dial 511 for the latest traffic and detour information.  Personal alerts can be received for frequent routes of travel through this system.

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