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Tanker truck carrying fuel overturns on Highway 86

April 21, 2002|By DARREN SIMON

Staff Writer

WESTMORLAND — A tanker truck carrying a load of fuel crashed on Highway 86 northwest of this city Friday, critically injuring the driver and spilling thousands of gallons of fuel onto the median.

Traffic was backed up for about a mile as the California Highway Patrol and emergency crews responded to the scene.

The county's hazardous material team also was called in to monitor the situation and to insure the fuel leak did not present a danger.

In all some 6,000 gallons of fuel leaked onto the median but avoided the roadway.

Injured was Stephen Clements, 44, of Phelen, who reportedly suffered a broken neck.

He was taken by ambulance to Pioneers Memorial Hospital in Brawley where he was stabilized and then flown to a Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla. There was no information on his condition at presstime Saturday night.

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The accident occurred at 3:47 p.m. on Highway 86 south of Allen Road near the U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint.

Clements was driving his rig, which was hauling two tankers filled with fuel, south on the highway at 55 mph behind another tractor-trailer truck.

That truck made a hard break to avoid a slow-moving car. Clements then swerved to avoid hitting the rig and lost control of his vehicle. Clements' rig went off the road and onto the dirt median where it overturned.

Highway 86 was closed near the accident scene for about two and half hours while the scene was cleared.

There were no other injuries in the accident.

A private cleanup firm was called to the scene, according to county Fire Department officials.

That company recovered about 400 gallons of fuel and on Saturday and today was working to remove fuel and dirt from the median.

>> Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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