HOUTZDALE – Police have now released the name of the man whose sports-utility vehicle veered off the road in Houtzdale Tuesday afternoon, causing the gasoline pumps at the Houtzdale Uni-Mart to explode.
State police at Clearfield report that Harry Nida, 75, of Houtzdale, was traveling on Elizabeth Street in Houtzdale Borough when he attempted to stop for traffic ahead of him. Nida applied his brakes, according to police, but his foot slipped from the pedal and he hit the gas pedal. Police say Nida will be cited for his actions.
One woman nearby saw the entire event unfold.
Dolores Gilbert was working at Uni-Mart when Nida hit the pumps between 2:15 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.
In speaking to GantDaily, she said, “I saw this car just flying and hitting the gas pumps.”
Nida was not seriously injured, but he told Gilbert that he hit his head on the windshield and was suffering from a headache.
Gilbert said Nida was traveling toward the traffic light near Uni-Mart when a car in front of him stopped suddenly. “This car stopped dead in front of him,” she said, “no brake lights, no nothing.”
“He slammed on his brakes, and apparently his foot slipped off the brake pedal onto the gas pedal and he went flying into the pump.”
Gilbert described the front of the SUV and the gas pump both catching on fire with flames reaching about 8 feet into the air.
Shortly after, the Houtzdale Fire Department and the Ramey Fire Department arrived on the scene. Volunteers shut off the gasoline supply to the pumps and extinguished the flames.
“We thought for sure … it was going to blow,” Gilbert said, describing a large “bang” when the SUV hit and several smaller “bangs” after the accident.
Police said Nida was wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident.