Appeals from judgments of Court of Common Pleas of Chester County, Jan. T., 1968, Nos. 28 and 27, in cases of Louis Stanik et ux. v. William H. Steuber et al.; and Ronald L. Stanik et ux. v. William H. Steuber et al.
Lawrence E. Wood, for defendant, appellant.
John S. Halsted, with him Gawthrop & Greenwood, for additional defendant, appellee.
C. Richard Morton, for additional defendant, appellee.
Bell, C. J., Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts and Pomeroy, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Pomeroy.
After dark on the evening of May 26, 1967, one Barry Glassman, accompanied by several acquaintances,
was driving east on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Toward the end of a stretch of highway which curved gradually to the right, Glassman's automobile ran out of gas, although the car's gasoline gauge indicated that the tank was still one-quarter full. Glassman parked his car on the road shoulder leaving a clearance of some three to four feet between the main roadbed and the driver's side of the vehicle. Glassman, together with a companion, walked forward on the shoulder of the highway and standing some feet in front of his parked car attempted to flag down passing motorists hoping to get a ride to the nearest gas station.
Shortly thereafter, the driver of an Oldsmobile, whose identity remains unknown, stopped in front of Glassman's vehicle and proposed to syphon gas from his car to Glassman's. Acting over protests from Glassman that he would rather be taken to a gas station and that the syphoning operation would not be successful, this second driver backed his car up using the slow lane of the Turnpike and attempted to place his car in such position relative to Glassman's car that syphoning could be effected. In the course of this maneuver, the driver pulled the Oldsmobile onto the Turnpike, headed toward and against the medial guardrail; the car was thus perpendicular to the flow of traffic and blocked the entire passing lane and part of the slow lane.
At this point a third automobile came around the curve traveling in the passing lane of the highway at a speed of sixty to sixty-five miles per hour. Riding in the car were Ronald L. Stanik, the driver, Donna Stanik, his wife, and Louis and Sophia E. Stanik, the father and mother of Ronald. Stanik, attempting to avoid a collision with the Oldsmobile, skidded and came to rest in a position parallel to, but not touching, the Oldsmobile, with its front end locked on the medial barrier.
Almost immediately thereafter while Stanik's car was still in this position, two other cars came into view. One, driven by Edward Latinsky, was in the slow lane and was traveling at approximately fifty-five miles per hour; the second, driven by William Steuber, was in the passing lane slightly to the rear of Latinsky's car and was traveling at roughly sixty miles per hour. In the ensuing effort to avoid a collision with the Stanik automobile, Latinsky first braked, but realizing that it would be impossible to stop in time, he then drove forward, passing unscathed through the narrow gap between the Stanik automobile and Glassman's car which which was still parked on the berm. Steuber, also reacting to the Stanik car blocking his lane of travel, moved his car to the right in an attempt to make room by forcing Latinsky to the ...