Tanker Crash Shuts Down S.C. Road



A collision involving a gas tanker truck and a pickup truck sent thousands of gallons of fuel onto a Spartanburg County road. The spill and the wreckage forced emergency crews to close the road for the day.

The Hot Spot tanker was upside down and leaking fuel on Southport Road. Doug Bryson, with Spartanburg County Emergency Management, said the tanker had just filled up at a terminal in Camp Croft. It was carrying 8,000 gallons of fuel; 6,000 in gasoline, 2,000 in diesel fuel.

"You can never underestimate the danger of a product like gasoline, especially with the flamability and explosiveness of it," Bryson told WYFF News4's Mike McCormick.

According to the Highway Patrol, at 7:20 a.m. the pickup truck was traveling south on Southport Road and the tanker was traveling north. Troopers said the pickup went to turn left onto South Avenue and ended up pulling in front of the tanker.


The wreck damaged the pickup truck and caused the tanker truck to flip upside down.

"I heard a big rumble outside," said Melvin Bishop who was working at nearby RSN Promotionals.

Bishop rushed outside, saw the accident scene and called 911.

"I could hear the guy beating in the truck, trying to get out. It was like 'boom, boom, boom,'" Bishop said. "Then some other guys from Solesbee's come up, they started pulling him out while I was on the way up."

Bishop watched the rescue of the tanker truck driver.

"He had blood and stuff all over his shirt and stuff. He kinda laid down on the ground for a little while. Then he finally got up and started walking around. You could tell he was real dazed and stuff," said Bishop.

The Highway Patrol identified the tanker truck driver as Terry Mahaffey, 37, of Greenville. Troopers said Christopher Avery, 23, of Lyman was driving the pickup truck. Both drivers suffered non-life threatening injuries.

Three firefighters were taken to the hospital with respiratory irritation, Bryson said.

Southport Road was closed between Highway 221 and Highway 56. Environmental crews and first responders setup containment dikes, which kept the fuel out of nearby waterways. The Department of Health and Environmental Control said the rain-soaked soil kept the fuel from sinking in.

Foam was applied to the area around the truck to contain vapors and suppress the possibility of ignition. Bryson said the foam costs around $100 per gallon.

Those who work around the accident scene said the intersection is very dangerous.

"I about got hit a couple times up there just going to pick lunch up," said Bishop. "There's one girl who works here now that got hit in the side trying to get out."

According to Bishop, just having a stop sign leading from South Avenue onto Southport Road isn't enough.

"That's just a bad intersection. You've gotta be really careful," said Bishop.


Copyright 2009 by WYFF4.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.