Commerce, CA- The driver of an oil tanker truck is lucky to be alive after his vehicle plunged over a highway overpass and erupted in a blaze early Sunday morning.
Surprisingly, only the truck driver was injured, but his tanker was destroyed and the 710 Freeway was badly damaged.
The exact cause of the accident is not known but a preliminary report from the California Highway Patrol indicates the truck driver lost control off his double tanker truck after it blew a tire.
The out-of-control tanker hit the guardrail of 710 Freeway began spilling thousands of gallons of crude oil onto the roadway and plunged over the side of the highway. The cab and one of the tankers fell to the yard below on the driver’s why it continued to burn, KABC-TV reported.
As the fire began to consume the tanker, a Good Samaritan, who was walking nearby came to the rescue of the driver, eventually freeing him from the enflamed wreckage.
The truck driver survived but suffered burns over 40 percent of his body. The Good Samaritan’s hands were also burned.
The second tanker which was still sitting on the 710 Freeway also caught fire and spilled oil onto the roadway.
Close to 8,500 gallons of crude oil spilled from the tanker onto the 710 Freeway and down a hill onto a roadway just below the freeway. At least two parked vehicles were incinerated and several other vehicles were burned.
KABC-TV reported that the heat of the fire was so intense that it burned a billboard above the roadway near the accident site.
As a precaution, people in adjacent neighborhoods were evacuated, but no one reported being affected by the toxic fumes though some of the resident’s vehicles were covered in black soot.
Northbound lanes of the 710 Freeway were opened by 9:30 a.m., but the southbound lanes were severy damaged and had to undergo extensive repair.
“The biggest concern is the damage to the structure and obviously the concrete because when you have the impact plus the heat of the fire from the incident, that could cause the concrete and even the rebar to not operate as it should or even become weaker,” Patrick Chandler with Caltrans explained.
The southbound lanes of the 710 Freeway and 5 Freeway Connector ramp reopened Monday.
This accident is representative of the extensive damage a truck accident can cause. Truck accidents cost billions of dollars each year and while this accident could not have been prevented, since it appears to be a mechanical failure, a large majority or truck accidents can be prevented. Many truck collisions can be directly attributed to the negligent actions or a truck driver or other motorist.
When a truck accident results from the negligence on the part of a driver or a trucking company, the injury victims can and should retain a truck accident attorney. With the help of a legal expert, truck accident victims can get the compensation they need and deserve.