The driver of an 18-wheeler miraculously survived a wreck which could have turned deadly after the crash ended up in a fiery explosion. It happened on Interstate 55 just south of the Gluckstadt exit very early Wednesday morning.
The highway explosion lit up I-55 northbound in Madison County around one Wednesday morning. A burnt up 8,000 gallon fuel tanker, which was fully loaded with gasoline exploded after overturning.
"I guess the Blessing of it is we're on an interstate, a wide open area, it wasn't a residential neighborhood or in a service station when it happened," said Butch Hammack, Madison County's Emergency Management Director.
Hammack said the tanker carrying all of the oil split from the cabin of the truck, carrying the driver. Hammack said the cabin and the driver landed in a median on the other side of the highway, away from the gasoline filled tanker. Emergency officials said if it weren't for the median, the driver could have ended up in southbound traffic, causing an even greater wreck.
"You're basically riding in a bomb when you're toting gasoline like that and it's very fortunate he didn't lose his life," said Hammack.
The Mississippi Highway Patrol led the investigation after the wreck.
"It appears the driver overturned his vehicle, ran off the road to the left there, possibly fell asleep," said MHP Master Sergeant Calvin Ousby.
After the accident fire and emergency crews from all over Madison County helped fight the blaze which took several hours to put out. Both lanes of northbound traffic were shut down for several hours while wreckers and a U.S. Environmental Services crew pulled pieces of the burnt tanker from the side of the highway and soaked up the gasoline spill. Ironically, the early morning rain worked to the advantage of crews cleaning up the mess.
"The rain will help us a lot, it usually makes the fuel come to the top of the surface where we can absorb a lot easier," said Hammack.
Environmental crews will check the wreck scene out within the next few days to test the quality of the soil where the tanker landed. The driver of the truck was taken to UMC with minor injuries. No other vehicles were involved in the accident. Traffic is back open to northbound traffic.
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