FedEx Driver 'Critically' Injured in Route 17 Crash

Driver had finished his route and was returning to the FedEx base less than half a mile from where he crashed into the back of a tractor-trailer Monday night, police said

A FedEx truck driver who was about a quarter mile away from the end of his route Monday night suffered critical injuries after smashing his truck into a tractor-trailer on route 17 South in Mahwah, Police Chief Jim Batelli said.

At about 8:05 p.m. Monday night, a flatbed tractor-trailer was pulling into the Pilot gas station on Route 17 when the FedEx truck traveling at “highway speed” hit its back right corner, Batelli said.

The FedEx driver, Sean Sevasta, 26, of Suffern, N.Y. - who police said had no packages in his truck and was headed to the Fed Ex depot less than a mile down Route 17 - was pinned inside his truck, Batelli said. He was removed by Mahwah Fire Department Companies 1 and 2 and Mahwah EMS, and airlifted to Hackensack University Medical Center with “critical injuries,” Batelli said.

According to Mahwah Lt. Stuart Blank, Sevasta suffered "multiple fractures to his lower extremities. A section of the trailer...was impaled the front of the Federal Express van, adding to the severity of the injuries."

As of 10:50 p.m., Blank said Sevasta was in "stable but guarded condition," at HUMC, and was awaiting surgery.

The damage to the delivery truck was significant, implying it was driving at a high speed when it hit the tractor-trailer, Batelli said.

The tractor-trailer driver, John P. Blalock, 43 of Cleveland, Tex., complained of back injuries after the accident, but did not suffer any major injuries, police said.

“We believe [Blalock] had a signal on and possibly emergency flashers,” as he was turning into the Pilot, Batelli said. “At this point, we don’t know why the [Sevasta] didn’t see the tractor-trailer. It is a well-lit stretch of 17.”

Police are continuing to investigate the accident in an attempt to determine why the driver could not detect that the truck was slowing and preparing to turn off the highway, Batelli said.

The two right lanes of the highway were shut for almost two hours, police said. 

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deer07430 February 26, 2013 at 04:59 AM
Hope everyone is going to be okay. Good job emergency depths, as always
thomas a. dennison February 26, 2013 at 12:16 PM
i ride through that area of the highway everyday its not awell lit area of the highway and ive had and seen on many accounts the trucks pullout into 2 lanes and cutoff motorist anybody that rides through that area can tell you the same thing it happens that often.they realy need some kind of warning before you get to that point of the highway like a blinking warning light on the bridge just before the truck stop entrance...if somone does not address this issue theres going to be more accidents you can be sure of that ....... a concernd citizen
Nick February 26, 2013 at 01:30 PM
Rte 17 from 202 through MacArthur is very dangerous with cars/truck pulling in and out of the gas stations right into the flow of traffic. Lots of cars ride the shoulder as well. Hopefully everyone will be okay.
yodaman5 February 26, 2013 at 01:44 PM
MFD/MPD, great job hope the Fedex driver has a quick recovery.
mah_wah February 26, 2013 at 05:08 PM
The entrance/exit for both the Pilot car entrance and truck entrance are very dangerous. There was one incident when I was driving in the slow lane traveling the speed of the highway and I encountered a tractor trailer leaving Pilot trying to merge on the highway and another tractor trailer was behind me in the slow lane, also going highway speed. It was impossible to see anything (for me to even move over a lane) and very frightening. This somehow needs to be improved. Hope everyone is okay and recovers quickly.
Chris February 26, 2013 at 07:05 PM
When entering 17S from Ramapo, first you almost get hit from cars exiting onto Ramapo from 17 S. If you safely make it onto 17, you then have to watch out for trucks entering Pilot... They will not look assist you in merging. They know they have the right of way & will cut you off if need be. I enter there at LEAST once a day and see it happen the majority of the time. Might not be what occurred in this instance, but won't be shocked if more accidents happen in this 1/2 mile stretch.
SS February 26, 2013 at 08:43 PM
The Entrances and exits at the Pilot rest stop need to be re-worked. Having tractor trailers entering and exiting a highway without proper on ramps and off ramps is a very dangerous situation and I'm surprised no one had been seriously hurt before this. I hope Mr. Sevasta makes a cpmplete and speedy recovery.
Andy Schmidt February 26, 2013 at 09:50 PM
Agreed - I too have more than once seen huge tractor trailers to have to pull into two lanes of traffic to exit Pilot. I've been surprised that there haven't been frequent crashes into exiting rigs. They need to use the space ON their property to create an exit that allows rigs to already have turned south and parallel to the highway - instead of doing this ON the highway. And, the Ridge Road exit, followed by the hotel, followed by the confusion where precisely to turn INTO pilot is just adding to the problem. HOWEVER, if the story is accurate, then the FedEx van crashed into a truck that had slowed down, turning INTO Pilot. So this sounds like a different scenario...
John Blalock II February 27, 2013 at 12:06 AM
Have any of you even been on a big rig? And it seems ya'll are trying to blame it on the trucker and not the FedEx driver who was driving quote at a high rate of speed around a truck stop. Idk how it is in NY, but down here in Texas people slow down around truck stops.
Nancy Fallon February 27, 2013 at 04:08 AM
The blame lies on the Mahwah Planning Board who, in an effort to deter a "truck stop," required Pilot to design a station with inadequate and dangerous entrances and exits. As a former owner of a trucking company, it was easy to see that the design of this station was an accident waiting to happen. Well, it happened.
Gb February 28, 2013 at 02:31 PM
U go hank
Hank February 28, 2013 at 02:33 PM
If you hadn't foolishly stopped in the right lane of the hiway Fed ex driver would be home with his family right now
Andy Schmidt February 28, 2013 at 03:01 PM
Hi Hank - just to be clear about the "double parking along the left curb" - they are not parking on the shoulder of the highway (as they do on 287), but on Pilot's property - preventing big rigs from entering the lot "fluently" and at a safe angle? Hopefully, this accident will lead to an investigation whether this was foreseeable and preventable by Pilot -- and thus creating a financial incentive for them to either shut down the truck entrance until a solution/configuration is found, or strictly enforcing a no parking rule in those areas, or committing to call the police on their customers IF someone parks on the shoulder of the highway to "quickly run in". (I've seen this occasionally on 17 North at the KFC, when truckers park on the shoulder instead of pulling in.) Chances are, the DOT had to review/approve the entrance and gave its okay?
Gb March 01, 2013 at 12:16 PM
Well my comment got deleted to and hank I agree with u that should never happen and I don't know about Texas but it is not safe or right to stop on any highway and the driver of the tractor trailer does not understand is whether his light where on or not It is not easy to see trucks pulling in or out of there I was by there last night and there was a truck pulling out and it was not that easy to see h and his lights where on. But the fact is there is a person in the the hospital and he is in bad shap because someone stopped there truck in the slow lane of a bizy highway not right.
Sandy March 01, 2013 at 03:51 PM
You're all blaming the tractor trailer driver not the Fed Ex driver, who according to the article was driving at a high rate of speed and rear ended the tractor trailer in the right rear of the truck. Is it possible the Fed Ex driver wasn't paying attention? I see a lot of assumptions here blaming the truck stop and truck driver when the tractor trailer was rear ended.
Gb March 01, 2013 at 11:23 PM
The highway is a highway and most people are not going slow on a high at 55 to 60 miles per hour but ether way it is still not legal to stop u car truck or other vehicle on a highway in the slow lane and if it was blocked off by anoughter truck he should not have stoped there.
Sandy March 02, 2013 at 02:18 PM
Are we reading the same article or is there information that you know about that was not reported? It says the tractor trailer was pulling into (not out of) the Pilot station with its signal on. I didn't read anything that said he was stopped on the road anywhere in the article. Why is everyone looking to blame the tractor trailer driver or Pilot, but not the driver who rear ended another vehicle, therefore causing the accident?
Ken Sanders March 02, 2013 at 07:21 PM
I have been reading the posts and have to ask is this about a wreck or the flow of traffic/convenience for cars? I live here and knowing there is a trucks top I drop a few mph till I see what is ahead of me. Before you ask, yes I have drove a truck. With that said , Hank is full of bullish, no driver especially one that is low or running out of hours is going to go in a five mile circle until he can make a turn at highway speed. They would lay the truck over. If the FedEx driver had hit a loaded school bus or a car full of kids turning would you still be so quick to blame those hit for making a turn? The fact is truck drivers are expected to be perfect and when they're not they pay very large tickets. If the driver is this case was within those limits then FedEx needs to pay the price and put an end to the driver bashing.
Gb March 03, 2013 at 05:19 PM
First the artical said ( we believe he had his signal on ) we all know that reporters only report what they are told and that does not mean those are the facts. For ur information his truck was stopped in the the slow lane and I repeat my self it is illegal to stop on a highway and for anyone who drives in that area at night will notice that the entences to that pilot are well lit according to that artical and if u driving in that area it is not well til so if we are talking about facts how does the artical say it is well til when infact it is not. Feel free to drive by there at night and you will see what the people who live and work over there are talking about .
Gottardo DiGiacopo March 04, 2013 at 12:48 PM
firstly none of us has a right to assign blame here and my hunch is this accident is simply unfortunate more than it's neatly "right vs wrong". i too have come upon the startling big-rig congestion at the pilot many times. it happened to me again at 7:30pm last night when a tractor trailer was pulling out as i was headed up the right lane. There is no way these trucks can not consume tboth the shoulder and that right lane to exit the Pilot. There should be a lighted caution arrow a hundred yards up from the exit that flashes whenever a large vehicle is exiting the rest stop... this would alert people to slow and move over.
Sandy March 04, 2013 at 02:18 PM
Your beef should be with Chief Batelli because the article quotes him contradicting what you're saying. Maybe you were there. And I grew up in this area and also live close by so I'm aware of the crazy driving that occurs there and everywhere else on Rt 17 on a daily basis
Hank March 04, 2013 at 02:54 PM
Sandy and the rest... A couple days ago someone with the same name as the flat bed driver posted that he was stopped with his flashers on rt 17. He also posted some strange logic about the accident. That is what Gb and I are refering to. Once he realized that he may be incriminating himself his post was deleted as well as our answers to his post. The comments are all out of sync and I deleted my other comments because they don't make sense anymore. Hank,former owner of sweatshop on wheels
Ryan March 05, 2013 at 12:16 AM
Sean is a good friend of mine for years. Anyone who speculates just to kill time is being disrespectful. Sean is always a defensive driver, and having lived here my whole life i can say that New Jersey is a very hazardous place to drive any day of the week. He is recovering in Hackensack, NJ but it will take a while.
Hank March 05, 2013 at 02:45 AM
Ryan I don't know Sean but he has probably been to everyone of our houses one time or another delivering fed ex. He is part of the community. I hope he gets well and back to work soon.
Sandy March 05, 2013 at 09:48 AM
Ryan, I am sorry your friend was hurt and I think I speak for all of those who posted that we wish him a full and speedy recovery. We were responding to the article posted, not being disrespectful because we have nothing else to do. That's all it was/is.
Ryan March 05, 2013 at 07:42 PM
I'm sure Sean appreciates the concern. I was more referring to those that will criticize his driving or attention or try to place blame on someone who is already in a bad situation. He will most likely have a permanent limp.
Sandy March 06, 2013 at 07:19 AM
Ryan, I'm guessing your friend will need rehab after he recovers from his injuries. Helen Hayes rehab in Stony Point NY is excellent and has many positive outcomes. Keep him away from Kessler in Saddle Brook though


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