Wisconsin cheese truck rolls on I-15; one southbound lane reopened after more than 8 hours of cleanup

A drowsy driving related rollover closed southbound left lane traffic for more than eight hours Monday, Interstate 15 milepost 36, Washington County, Utah, April 11, 2016 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News

WASHINGTON COUNTY — A Wisconsin man hauling 42,000 pounds of cheese to Las Vegas escaped uninjured Monday morning after falling asleep at the wheel and rolling his rig on Interstate 15 southbound just at the top of Black Ridge.

Drowsy driving related rollover closed southbound left lane traffic for more than eight hours Monday, Interstate 15 milepost 36, Washington County, Utah, April 11, 2016 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News
A drowsy driving related rollover closed southbound left lane traffic for more than eight hours Monday, Interstate 15 milepost 36, Washington County, Utah, April 11, 2016 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News

“He fell asleep, drifted off to the left shoulder, hit the wall, over corrected to the right and then to the left and that’s when the trailer flipped over,” said Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Chris Terry.

The 64-year-old truck driver, Donald Barnes, said he was only 2 1/2 hours away from his final destination when the crash occurred.

The semitrailer took up much of the southbound left lane just north of milepost 36, causing officials to close the left lane by setting up signage and cones for a mile in advance of the accident scene.

When Terry arrived at the site of the accident, Barnes was already out of his truck and walking around.

“It could have been much worse,” the trooper said.

All 42,000 pounds of cheese had to be removed from the back of the semitrailer before the rig could be moved upright. The amount of work involved caused the left lane to remain closed between 5:45 a.m. when the accident occurred and 2:34 p.m. when the scene was finally cleared.

Drowsy driving related rollover closed southbound left lane traffic for more than eight hours Monday, Interstate 15 milepost 36, Washington County, Utah, April 11, 2016 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News
A drowsy driving related rollover closed southbound left lane traffic for more than eight hours Monday, Interstate 15 milepost 36, Washington County, Utah, April 11, 2016 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News

The men on site formed a line and handed boxes of cheese over one-by-one into the back of another truck that arrived shortly after 9 a.m. By 10 a.m. they had barely made a dent in the massive load.

Monday morning’s incident marked the final long haul job Barnes said he plans to take. He retired two years ago, he said, but had trouble sitting still so he continued to take a haul once a month.

Barnes said he has an 8-year-old son in Wisconsin and Monday’s crash was a stark reminder of the time he was missing with his boy while he was traveling.

Barnes stopped Sunday night in Fillmore to sleep, Terry said, but woke up early to finish the trip.

It was one rude awakening, Barnes said, adding he is happy that no one else was hurt in the rollover.

Barnes was cited for failing to maintain a lane of travel.

This report is based on preliminary information provided by law enforcement or other emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.

Email: cmiller@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!

Posted in Local, NewsTagged , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply