BELMONT COUNTY, Ohio (WTRF)
I-70 East was shut down for most of the morning Friday due to an accident involving hazardous material.
Officials say at 8:53 a.m., two trucks from the same lawn care company were in traffic, one of them carrying a tank of herbicide.
And that was the one that was hit.
“There was a dump truck that was getting onto 70 eastbound from State Route 9,” said Lt. Maurice Waddell, post commander of the St. Clairsville Ohio State Highway Patrol. “When he got to the top of the ramp, there was a lot of traffic on Interstate 70 eastbound at that time. He couldn’t merge on so he stopped. And at that time, another truck that was behind him struck the truck in the rear. It was hauling approximately 200 gallons of weed killer.”
“It was broadleaf weed killer,” said Assistant Chief Daniel Grady of Cumberland Trail Fire Department. “It caused a tear in the tank that was carrying the weed killer and that caused it to leak onto I-70.”
They shut down the eastbound lanes.
Traffic backed up for miles.
Cumberland Trail Fire Department was on the scene, along with the OSHP, the Belmont County EMA and ODOT all responded.
ODOT placed sand on the roadway to absorb the chemical.
“The product was soaked up with the sand and moved to the side of the interstate,” said Grady. “And the Ohio EPA is going to come in to determine if any other cleanup needs to be done.”
People were taking Route 40 in the meantime, but it also slowed to a crawl.
If there is one takeaway from the incident that drivers can learn from, it is this:
“When you have a rear end collision, a lot of times someone’s not paying attention,” Lt. Waddell noted. “I don’t know if he was looking behind him in traffic to merge and didn’t realize that the driver in front of him had stopped. I don’t know. I didn’t interview that driver. But typically when you’re merging onto the interstate, you have to pay attention to what’s ahead of you and also what’s behind you, so you can safely merge on.”
Officials say both drivers were injured, but neither seriously.
The highway reopened before noon.
The driver that struck the other one is cited for failure to maintain an assured clear distance.