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Two people escaped injury on westbound Interstate 84 on the night of February 13, when the auto that they had just left at roadside due to a breakdown was demolished by an oncoming tractor-trailer truck, officials said.
The accident resulted in westbound I-84 in that area closing to traffic for more than 90 minutes, until the heavily damaged truck could be moved to allow one lane of traffic to travel past the accident scene.
State police said that motorist Cheyenne Morgan Wandall 19, of New Milford, who was driving a 1999 Audi A-6 sedan westward on I-84, encountered mechanical problems and then stopped and parked the Audi, straddling the left road shoulder and left travel lane of the highway about one-half mile east of the Exit 9 off-ramp at about 10:18 pm. Wandall then got out of the Audi, as did passenger Colby Dean Pomeroy, 19, of Woodbury.
Vincent Phillips, 51, of Waterbury was driving a 2001 Mack tractor-trailer truck in the left lane and then attempted to stop, but the truck went out of control, traveled off the road and then struck the Audi, state police said. The truck drove over the sedan, with the sedan becoming lodged beneath the truck section where the tractor and the trailer meet, officials said. There were no injuries.
Don DiGioia, Hawleyville’s assistant fire chief who served as incident commander, said that eight Hawleyville volunteer firefighters in two fire trucks drove up the Exit 9 westbound off-ramp and then proceeded eastward on the westbound lanes of the closed highway to reach the accident scene.
A saddle-bag style diesel fuel tank on the Mack truck had ruptured, releasing about 80 gallons of diesel fuel onto the highway, Mr DiGioia said. Firefighters used absorbent materials and created a barrier to prevent the fuel from entering a storm sewer, he said. The truck came to rest in an angled position across the roadway.
The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) went to the accident to inspect the fuel spill, calling in an environmental contractor to perform a clean-up project, state police said.
“It was a mess,” Mr DiGioia remarked of the crash wreckage and spilled diesel fuel.
State police said that Phillips, the truck driver, was traveling too fast for conditions.