Local Man Pulls Driver Out of Semi
Darren Doyle, story, photos, and video:
An overturned gasoline truck kept emergency personnel busy all through the night as they worked to clean up thousands of gallons of gasoline that had already leaked into the ditch line in the 8000 block of KY HWY 259 North in Bee Spring.
According to Edmonson County Sheriff Shane Doyle, a 2021 Freightliner semi, driven by Anthony Luster, (29) of Nashville, TN, was headed north when for an unknown reason, dropped off the right shoulder of the road. The truck traveled over 300 feet in the ditch line until it struck a culvert, which then caused the truck to overturn on the passenger side, the Sheriff said.
The truck then skidded on its side and struck a black Dodge Journey, driven by William Wilkerson, (51) of Bee Spring, according to Sheriff Doyle. The Sheriff also said that John Brooks, also of Bee Spring, drove up on the accident and saw gasoline pouring from the truck. Sheriff Doyle said that Brooks broke out the windshield of the truck, awakened the driver who was unconscious and bleeding from a head wound, and pulled him to safety.
According to the Sheriff, Mr. Luster refused medical treatment at the scene and Mr. Wilkerson reported no injuries.
Edmonson Voice photo slideshow from the January 19-20th gasoline tanker spill on KY HWY 259
While an overturned semi-truck is not something you see everyday in Bee Spring, that's not really the big issue; it's the thousands of gallons of gasoline flowing down the ditch and entering the ecosystem, and that's what has emergency personnel concerned today.
Edmonson County Emergency Management Director Terry Massey said when emergency crews arrived around 3PM yesterday, they immediately saw the gas leaking from the tanker.
"We had gas gushing out of the tank," he said. "There were ripples of gasoline flowing down the ditch."
Massey said road crews were immediately called in to dig a retaining pond for the fuel in order to stop the flow into the ditch; however, the gasoline had already entered and was disappearing, meaning the gasoline was traveling underground. In this area, the ditches flow into a creek, which flows into Nolin River, then into Green River, which is above the Edmonson County water treatment facility, Massey said.
He said that the creek below was full of dead minnows; evidence that the gasoline had already done damage there.
"Bowling Green Hazmat got there and started using absorbing measures," said Massey. "The EPA got involved and they sent their emergency response leader down here. The department of transportation has been really helpful with all their manpower and equipment. They brought their backhoe. The Kyrock, Brownsville, and Anetta Fire Departments have been here all night. Everybody's been working to help."
Massey said the trucking company, which is Dupre Logistics, LLC. in Birmingham, Alabama, sent a pumper truck to remove the fuel from the tanker but when they finally arrived, there was a malfunction with the pumping equipment and they could not do the job. Another truck from Tennessee had to be sent, which finally arrived; however, there was only about a thousand gallons left in the tanker, meaning approximately 7,000 gallons of gas had already leaked out onto the ground.
Fire department members began evacuating inhabitants of 8-10 houses in the area as not only gasoline flowed, but the fumes were just as dangerous, and explosive. Massey said the Red Cross was contacted and two families were placed in hotel rooms last night. Others reportedly went to stay with family or friends.
Massey said that because the gasoline penetrated the soil, the PVC main water lines could become compromised without action. Tony Sanders, Manager of Edmonson County Water District, said that officials were going to reconvene immediately after the scene was cleared today to discuss a plan moving forward.
Massey said Warren County's Emergency Management also arrived on scene to help along with a soil cleanup crew. That crew will have to pump any standing fuel off the ground, then the ground itself will have to be removed, disposed of, then replaced with new soil.
"There was gasoline running literally two-foot deep down the ditch," Massey said.
Officials at the scene said the costs for cleaning everything up would run into the millions and could take months before things looked like they did before the accident. Sheriff Doyle said that the trucking company has a contracted cleanup crew to repair damage from the spill.
The scene was cleared and the road was finally reopened earlier today.