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Eight injured in head-on crash on Liberty Bridge

Friday, April 11, 2003

By Jonathan D. Silver, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

A professor awaiting trial on charges that he shot a Mt. Lebanon police officer was behind the wheel of a sports car yesterday when it smashed head-on into a school van carrying seven people, including two handicapped children.

A patient is lifted from a wheelchair onto a stretcher after a Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children van was involved in a collision on the Liberty Bridge yesterday. (John Beale, Post-Gazette)

The accident, which occurred at 12:47 p.m. on the Liberty Bridge, sent eight people to area hospitals and snarled traffic for about 45 minutes as the bridge and Liberty Tunnels were closed.

City police said it appeared the convertible sports car was heading Downtown in the wrong lane when it hit the outbound van. The driver of the car, Edward Constant II, 60, had to be cut from the wreckage.

He faces charges of reckless driving, driving on the wrong side of the road and possibly causing an accident involving injuries.

Constant, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, faces trial next month on charges that he shot and wounded a Mt. Lebanon police officer who responded to his house for a domestic dispute in May 2002.

Constant was released in February from the Allegheny County Jail on $500,000 bond and the condition that he not return to his home on Piper Drive.

Police learned from a witness sitting in traffic behind the sports car that its driver pulled out into the oncoming lane of traffic. The accident is under investigation.

Constant was taken to Mercy Hospital complaining of pain to his head, back and arm. He was in serious condition last night.

Five people from the Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children who were in the van were taken to UPMC Presbyterian and Mercy. The adults -- a driver, a nurse, two physical therapists and a physical therapy intern at the school -- complained primarily of back pain.

The driver was identified as Timothy Joyce, 44, of Greenfield. He complained of chest pains and was taken to Mercy. Denise Seifert, 36, of Hampton, was treated and released.

The children, a 7-year-old boy and 6-year-old girl, both of whom are blind and in wheelchairs, were taken to Children's Hospital for observation. By late yesterday afternoon, both were in fair condition and they were expected to return to their quarters at the school last night.

The van had just left the school in Oakland and was on its way to a wheelchair clinic in Green Tree, school Executive Director Janet Simon said.

The bridge becomes three lanes outbound during the evening rush and can be converted to three lanes inbound for the morning rush. But at midday, the bridge is usually two lanes in each direction. The van was traveling in the outbound left lane when the accident took place.

The bridge and tunnel reopened around 1:30 p.m.

Jonathan D. Silver can be reached at jsilver@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1962.

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