Stephanie Stein normally works from home, but Monday morning when a garbage truck crashed into her Abingdon home at about 10 a.m., fortunately she was at a doctor’s appointment.
“I’d be terrified, I can’t even think about it,” Stein said about how she might have felt had she’d been at home.
She also likely avoided serious injury.
Stein and her husband, Jeff, were surveying the damage early Monday afternoon after the truck, owned by Waste Industries, was pulled away from the house by two tow trucks from Bank’s Auto Recyclers and Towing.
“It’s bad,” Stephanie Stein said after looking at the basement area.
She works on the first floor, close to where the truck hit, she said.
“Everyone is safe, so that’s the most important thing,” she said.
The driver of the garbage truck, Matthew Heckrotte, might have suffered a medical emergency which caused him to leave the road at Forfar Court and cross over Montrose Way, according to Cristie Kahler, director of media relations for the Harford County Sheriff’s Office.
Heckrotte was taken to Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore for treatment, Kahler said.
Heckrotte was conscious at the hospital, according to Mike Collins, general manager of Waste Industries in Darlington, owner of the truck.
Heckrotte’s helper was not in the truck during the emergency, he was on the street picking up trash, Collins said.
Collins has been in the business for 30 years and said he’d never before seen an accident like the one on Monday.
The house was structurally compromised after the truck went through the concrete foundation of a rear corner, according to Steve Hinch, of the Harford County Technical Rescue Team.
Before the truck could be removed, crews had to make sure the house was safe for his team and that when the truck was pulled out, the structure wouldn’t collapse, Hinch said.
“It’s repairable,” he said, “but it will be a while because they have to get engineers to redesign how to put the foundation back in and support the house.”
Once the house was determined to be safe, two two trucks worked in tandem to remove the garbage truck, Hinch said.
Because the driver had already been extricated from the truck by members of Abingdon Volunteer Fire Company, the technical rescue team could focus on the house, Hinch said.
“It it was an actual rescue, it would have been a totally different scenario,” he said.
His crews had to determine what might happen to the house when the truck was removed.
“There was a good chance of moving it and knocking out more of the foundation,” Hinch said. “The corner of the house could have collapsed.”
The truck also missed hitting a gas fireplace by 3 to 4 feet, he said.
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“If it hit the gas line, it would fill the house with gas and that would cause a different hazard,” Hinch said.