Tanker rams car, spews raw sewage across Snow Canyon Parkway

ST. GEORGE  A single-tanker hauling thousands of gallons of sewage struck a Volkswagon passenger car Thursday after the truck driver ran a red light at a Bluff Street intersection, requiring a battalion of responders.

Shortly after 11 a.m. officers and firefighters responded to the intersection of Bluff Street and Snow Canyon Parkway and found the tanker on its side next to the Volkswagen, blocking several lanes of traffic in three directions, St. George Police officer Tiffany Atkin said.

City animal control officer Sara Allred witnessed the crash and contacted dispatch seconds after it took place as she ran to both vehicles to check on the drivers, she told St. George News.

“The woman was already out of her car but when I looked at the truck the driver was in the cab bleeding from his head,” she said, adding that she yelled for him to exit the truck in the event the gas tank or line ruptured.

Emergency medical personnel also responded and checked on both drivers who reported no serious injuries and declined transport to the hospital.

A tanker is pulled upright after a crash involving a passenger car at the intersection of Snow Canyon Parkway and Bluff Street, St. George, Utah, May 2, 2019 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Allred said that when the two vehicles collided, she thought the cab of the tanker was going to strike her pickup truck as it rose into the air before it rolled over on its side.

“It looked like the truck was coming towards me at first,” she said.

At the time of the crash, the tanker was heading south on state Route 18 and approaching the intersection of Bluff Street and Snow Canyon Drive when the driver merged into the left-turn lane to head east on Red Hills Parkway.

He had a red light and “for whatever reason” was unable to stop, Atkin said.

The Volkswagen, heading east on Snow Canyon Parkway toward Red Hills Parkway, entered the intersection, but the vehicle’s safety system detected the tanker and applied the brakes automatically, Atkin said, which stopped the vehicle just as the tanker T-boned the Volkswagen on the driver’s side.

The tanker’s front end was lifted off the ground and continued upward, “so the driver was actually looking at the sky,” Atkin said. It crashed to the ground on its passenger side.

One officer said there were several complaints of burning eyes and headaches that appeared to come from the strong smell of sewage that drifted through the scene.

Sandbag barriers are placed around storm drains to prevent contamination after a tanker hauling sewage overturns at the intersection of Snow Canyon Parkway and Bluff Street, St. George, Utah, May 2, 2019 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

A crew from the St. George city Streets Division managed the sewage leaking from the tanker. The crew spread a dump truck full of sand across the roadway and placed small sand barriers around storm drains to prevent contamination.

A second sewage tanker was dispatched to the scene to offload the sewage to reduce the weight of the load inside of the tank before it could be pulled upright safely and towed from the scene.

“The tank weighs about 25,000 pounds now, and they want to offload some of the load so once it gets to 18,000 we can pull it upright and tow it,” one of the tow operators said.

A Utah Highway Patrol commercial vehicle crash investigator also responded to the scene to take measurements and photos.

Citations have not been issued as the crash is still under investigation.

The impact on traffic was significant, Atkin said, and continued for more than an hour, as both southbound lanes from SR-18 and both eastbound lanes of Snow Canyon Drive were closed.

This report is based on statements from police or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. 

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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