Tanker truck crashes, spilling latex and closing highway

A tanker truck hauling some 5,500 to 6,000 gallons of liquid latex crashed and rolled about 25 miles east of Lovell on U.S. 14A on the face of the Big Horn Mountains early Tuesday morning, partially blocking traffic and sending the driver to the hospital.

After removing truck driver Dennis Spurbeck from his cab, Lovell paramedic Scott Murphey (top) and firemen Michael Jameson and Kevin Jones assist the driver to an awaiting stretcher being prepared by EMTs Heidi Christenson and Craig Shidler following the Tuesday morning crash on the west face of the Big Horns. David Peck photo
After removing truck driver Dennis Spurbeck from his cab, Lovell paramedic Scott Murphey (top) and firemen Michael Jameson and Kevin Jones assist the driver to an awaiting stretcher being prepared by EMTs Heidi Christenson and Craig Shidler following the Tuesday morning crash on the west face of the Big Horns. David Peck photo

According to information released by the Wyoming Dept. of Transportation, 59-year-old Dennis Spurbeck of New Philadelphia, Ohio, was traveling down the mountain on 14A around 7:50 a.m. Tuesday on a 10 percent downgrade and negotiating a curve in the highway when the 2012 Volvo tractor he was driving crashed into the east side of the roadway. The crash site is about two miles up from the Five Springs turnoff.

Highway troopers on the scene were investigating brake failure as a contributing factor in the crash as the truck’s speed became too great for the downgrade and the curves, which caused the truck to tip and roll, WyDOT stated.

Trooper Dan Walker said the driver used too high a gear while descending the steep grade and after the brakes failed bounced off the Jersey barriers on the exposed side of the highway, preventing the truck from going over the edge.

“He hit that sucker hard,” Walker said.

The highway was closed with debris strewn across both lanes of traffic and the tanker trailer jutting out into the inside or eastbound lane while a North Big Horn Hospital ambulance crew worked to free Spurbeck from the wreckage. With the cab up on the steep embankment, EMTs first got the driver out of the cab, then helped him down the slope to the awaiting stretcher. He was transported by ambulance to the hospital in Lovell with minor injuries, according to Walker, and was released.

The highway remained closed while Trooper Walker conducted his initial investigation at the scene but reopened to one lane of traffic alternating up and down the mountain as Lovell volunteer firemen controlled traffic above and below the site.

The truck remained on the mountain Tuesday evening and the highway was again closed while a crew pumped the latex from the tank, Lovell Fire Chief Jim Minchow said Tuesday night. Walker said the truck was removed and the highway re-opened early Wednesday morning.

According to WyDOT, the load of latex is not considered to be a hazardous material, but emergency responders were able to contain the latex that was leaking from the tanker, with the crash scene approximately 150 feet from a water source.

Minchow said the tanker was heading to the Celotex Corp. sheetrock plant in Cody.

Spurbeck of New Philadelphia, Ohio, was traveling down the mountain on 14A around 7:50 a.m. Tuesday on a 10 percent downgrade and negotiating a curve in the highway when the 2012 Volvo tractor he was driving crashed into the east side of the roadway. The crash site is about two miles up from the Five Springs turnoff.

Highway troopers on the scene were investigating brake failure as a contributing factor in the crash as the truck’s speed became too great for the downgrade and the curves, which caused the truck to tip and roll.

The highway was closed with debris strewn across both lanes of traffic and the tanker trailer jutting out into the inside or eastbound lane while a North Big Horn Hospital ambulance crew worked to free Spurbeck from the wreckage. With the cab up on he steep embankment, EMTs first got the driver out of the cab, then helped him down the slope to the awaiting stretcher. He was transported by ambulance to the hospital in Lovell with minor injuries, according to WyDOT.

The highway remained closed while Trooper Dan Walker conducted his initial investigation at the scene but reopened to one lane of traffic alternating up and down the mountain as Lovell volunteer firemen controlled traffic above and below the site.

The truck remained on the mountain Tuesday evening and the highway was again closed while a crew pumped the latex from the tank, Lovell Fire Chief Jim Minchow said Tuesday night. He said the truck was to be removed and the highway re-opened by Wednesday morning.

According to WyDOT, the load of latex is not considered to be a hazardous material, but emergency responders were able to contain the latex that was leaking from the tanker, with the crash scene approximately 150 feet from a water source.

Minchow said the tanker was heading to the Celotex Corp. sheetrock plant in Cody.

Lovell Fire Chief Jim Minchow (right) checks out the scene on U.S. 14A 25 miles east of Lovell Tuesday morning where this tanker truck hauling latex crashed into the side of the mountain after its brakes failed. The crash caused the highway to be closed during the initial investigation and also overnight. David Peck photo
Lovell Fire Chief Jim Minchow (right) checks out the scene on U.S. 14A 25 miles east of Lovell Tuesday morning where this tanker truck hauling latex crashed into the side of the mountain after its brakes failed. The crash caused the highway to be closed during the initial investigation and also overnight. David Peck photo