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    Default Utah-Tanker Truck Crash and Burn

    Tanker Carrying Gasoline Crashes and Burns on Hwy 6
    April 24th, 2006 @ 4:00pm
    Sam Penrod Reporting

    A tanker truck crash has closed Highway 6 in Spanish Fork Canyon. The tanker was carrying unleaded gasoline when it wrecked and burst into flames.

    The accident occurred near Thistle Junction at mile marker 191. The highway has been closed in both directions.

    The driver of the truck was able to get out, but was seriously injured. We're told he has first and third degree burns over 90% of his body. He has been taken to the hospital by helicopter. No one else is believed to have been involved or injured in the accident.

    The crash occurred around 1:30 pm, just east of the Hwy 89 and Hwy 6 interchange. The tanker truck was carrying two tanker trailers of unleaded gasoline, about 8300 of gas.

    Both tankers completely burned, leaving only charred rubble. The rock wall of the canyon is left completely blackened from the smoke and explosion.

    The cause of the accident is still unknown, but speed seems to be a likely factor.

    Here are the detours the Utah Department of Transportation is recommending for access to and from the Castle Country area of Eastern Utah.

    Eastbound traffic into the area should take US-89 at Thistle all the way south to I-70, then back on S-R 10 through Emery County.
    Westbound traffic from Price to the Wasatch Front is being diverted onto Highway 191 over Indian Canyon and into Duchesne County, with access back to the Wasatch Front on Highway 40.
    Back in August 2005, there was a similar crash almost in the exact spot as today's explosion. The driver of a semi-truck carrying explosives took a curve too fast and crashed.


    That caused a fiery explosion and left a massive crater in the road. No one was seriously hurt, but it took crews several days to repair the road damage. The Utah Highway Patrol filed charges against the truck driver.

    In 2004, UDOT reported 20 crashes within two miles either way of milemarker 191. That averages to more than one accident per month. It was even worse back in 2003 when there was an average of two accidents a month in that same area.
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    Default Update

    Trucker still critical after fiery wreck PDF | Print | E-mail

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    MICHAEL RIGERT - Daily Herald
    An Arizona man remained in critical condition Tuesday after his tractor-trailer hauling 8,300 gallons of unleaded gasoline crashed and caught fire on U.S. Highway 6 in Spanish Fork Canyon the day before.

    Todd Nicolson, 39, of Lupton, Ariz., suffered third-degree burns to 90 percent of his body after leaking fuel was ignited after the wreck, according to the University of Utah Medical Center.

    Derek Jensen, a Utah Department of Public Safety spokesman, said based on Nicolson's extremely critical condition Monday night, he was surprised the victim survived through the night.

    "He's pretty touch and go," Jensen said.

    Nicolson, a tractor-trailer operator for Gallup, New Mexico-based Quick Trans trucking, had just picked up a load of fuel in Evanston, Wyo., en route to New Mexico when he lost control of the vehicle at about 1:30 p.m., UHP officials said. The wreck took place on a narrow, winding portion of U.S. 6 near Thistle Junction where the posted speed limit is 40 mph.

    UHP Lt. Bruce Riches said excessive speed was the primary cause of the crash. Witnesses at the scene also told UHP investigators that the tanker driver took the curve too fast.

    "They came up with 75 to 80 mph, possibly more," Riches said.

    He said according to the tanker truck's records, Nicolson had likely traveled on U.S. 6 previously.

    Emergency crews extricated Nicolson from the vehicle and transported him by medical helicopter to the University of Utah Medical Center.

    Though charges are pending against Nicolson in the accident, investigators are still reviewing the case, Riches said.

    Officials with Quick Trans did not return calls requesting comment Tuesday.

    Bethany Eller, a Utah Department of Transportation spokeswoman, said the highway was opened to traffic in both directions Tuesday while crews assess the damage and the soundness of the canyon's rock wall where the accident took place. However there may be additional lane closures and delays today and in coming days as crews repair the highway.

    "The gasoline fire basically kind of melted the asphalt," Eller said, causing delays as motorists slow to circumvent the rough roadway.

    "Right now using U.S. 6 is fine," she said. "Just slow down for our crews."

    Monday's wreck took place in nearly the same location as a crash in August of 2005 when a semitrailer carrying several thousand pounds of TNT wrecked and exploded when taking the curve too fast. That wreck left a massive crater in the highway and led county prosecutors to later file criminal charges against the driver.
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