Three trucks collided late Monday morning at the eastern edge of Lancaster County, closing a mile-long stretch of Route 30 east of Gap and crushing the stone wall of a 229-year-old building.
Two of the three truck drivers were injured in the crash, which kept highway traffic at a standstill for about four hours.
State police credited the thick stone walls of Tier Holdings LLC - built in the late 18th century as a tavern - with saving the lives of people inside.
According to police, the accident happened at 11:33 a.m., when a mid-sized Ryder moving van driven by Matthew Pawlowski, 48, of Philadelphia, who was heading west on Route 30, slowed to make a right turn onto Mount Vernon Road in Salisbury Township.
A Ford pickup truck operated by Daniel Gibson, 39, of Codorus, was traveling behind the van and slowed to allow the turn, according to state police Trooper Scott Prushinski.
But the third truck in the line of traffic - an 18-wheel tractor-trailer driven by Cory Gomez, 40, of Lancaster - did not stop, he said.
Pawlowski and Gibson were trapped in their vehicles and had to be extricated by rescue crews, Prushinski said. He described their injuries as "major, but not life-threatening."
Gomez, who was driving for Midstate Inc. Delivery Services, was not seriously injured, he said.
Pawlowski and Gibson were taken to Lancaster General Hospital and discharged, a nursing supervisor said.
Chris McGowan, deputy chief of Gap Fire Company, said there were no passengers in any of the vehicles involved in the crash.
Route 30 reopened to traffic after 3:30 p.m., according to a state police dispatcher.
Prushinski said the scene was slow to clear because rescue workers "had to make sure the building's structural integrity was there" before they started pulling the damaged vehicles away from the wall.
An investigation into the cause of the accident is continuing, the trooper said. No one has been charged in connection with the crash, he said.
According to police, the Ryder truck was forced by the collision into the yellow stone facade of the Tier building at 5745 Lincoln Highway.
After the crash, the Ryder truck's cab rested at a 45-degree angle on a pile of rocks that fell from the wall. The trailer rested on its side, and a collapsed awning from the building rested on top of it.
The truck's rear right-turn signal was still flashing as workers tried to separate the vehicles with tow trucks.
The crumpled yellow cab of the 18-wheeler rested with its nose in the undercarriage of the toppled Ryder van. The tractor-trailer was largely undamaged, although some of the metal was shredded by the impact.
The full-size Ford F-150 pickup truck, which was between the two larger trucks, sustained the most serious damage.
Smashed and twisted almost beyond recognition, the pickup had a Paul Davis Restoration & Remodeling logo on its door.
"We're still kind of foggy on what happened," Joe Madrak - co-owner of Tier Holdings, an environmental services company - said early Monday afternoon.
"I heard a lot of screeching. I heard our controller and our receptionist scream," he said.
The impact pushed in the wall, Madrak said. "But, fortunately, that wall is three feet thick," he said.
No one inside the building was injured.
The building first operated as the Mount Vernon Tavern and later as a bed-and-breakfast, Madrak said.
Tier has occupied the building since 2003, he said. There are typically nine or 10 employees in that part of the building.
JoAnn White, Tier's receptionist, said she was walking toward the front of the building when she heard "a big boom, and I saw a lot of dust."
"I knew right away there was another accident," she said. "I don't know how many accidents have happened here. It keeps you constantly on edge."
"This is the sixth major accident here in the last year," Madrak said. "This is the worst."
Vehicles turning onto or pulling out from Mount Vernon Road are at high risk from motorists on Route 30, he said.
"But they won't give us a stoplight," he said.
Rescue crews from Gap, Salisbury, Kinzers, Paradise, Christiana and New Holland responded to the scene.
Copyright 2012 Lancaster Newspapers, Inc.