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Two-Car Crash at Rainbow Bridge at Wyalusing Claims Life


By Rick Hiduk

Route 187 in Terry Township, Bradford County, as well as a portion of New Albany Wyalusing Road (SR 2010), were closed for at least four hours on Aug. 17 after a fatal collision occurred at the west end of Rainbow Bridge, which carries traffic from Route 6 over the Susquehanna River from Wyalusing Township.

State police at Towanda reported that JoAnna Purdy-Thornton, 56, Rome, was attempting a left turn from Route 187 onto the bridge at about 6:30 p.m., when her 1999 Subaru station wagon was struck on the driver’s side by a 2008 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck driven by Michael Vognetz, 42, Watsontown, who was traveling west across the bridge. Based on dotted lines spray-painted on the roadway by the authorities who reconstructed the accident, Thornton’s was pushed diagonally across the intersection.

Purdy-Thornton was pronounced dead at the scene, as a result of “blunt force head trauma,” according to Bradford County coroner Thomas M. Carman. JoAnna is survived by her husband Frank, as well as by a son and a daughter.

Vognetz was transported to Towanda Memorial Hospital for minor injuries.

In addition to the fire companies and emergency response units closest to the scene that responded directly to the crash site, second- and third-response crews up and down the river worked well into the night, marking detours and directing motorists around the scene.

Pennsylvania State Police continue their investigation into the crash.

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