PERRY TOWNSHIP, Lawrence County — A Mercer County man was killed Wednesday morning when a school van he was driving collided with a tractor-trailer on state Route 488 in southern Lawrence County near Ellwood City.

Peter Ellis, 64, was killed in the accident, said Lawrence County Coroner Rich “R.J.” Johnson.

Johnson said he pronounced Ellis dead at the scene. The county coroner’s office will perform an autopsy to determine his exact cause of death.

Mercer Area School District Superintendent Dr. Ronald Rowe said Ellis had been employed by the district for several years as a van driver. Additionally, he served as a scorekeeper for the basketball teams and other athletic events, and regularly attended many Mercer athletic endeavors.

“Pete will be sorely missed,” Rowe said. “We appreciate his service, time and dedication to the Mercer Area School District.

Johnson said the accident occurred around 8:50 a.m. when the van, negotiating a curve in the road, crossed the center line and hit the tractor-trailer. The tractor-trailer driver’s name was unavailable early Wednesday afternoon.

Johnson said the tractor-trailer’s driver was hauling for Prime Storage, a company that hauls daily for Adams Manufacturing of Portersville.

Based on information obtained at the scene, Johnson said Ellis had just dropped off an adult student at a school in the area, and he and the van aide were the only ones inside the vehicle when the collision occurred. Neither the tractor-trailer driver nor the aide was injured.

Johnson said the van had heavy front-end damage, and the driver had to be freed by emergency responders. Both vehicles were towed from the scene.

Members of the Wurtemberg-Perry Volunteer Fire Department and Ellwood City Fire Department assisted at the scene. The state police are investigating the accident.

The collision occurred in Ellwood City Area School District near Perry Lower Intermediate School, Johnson said, noting that both the van driver and the tractor-trailer driver both had taken that route every day.

HERALD STAFF Writer Heidi Warren contributed to this story. 

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