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CHICKALOON, AK – A semi tanker truck overturned Thursday afternoon, October 7, spilling thousands of gallons of diesel fuel on a highway in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough of Alaska. There were no serious injuries in the collision that occurred on the Glenn Highway near the town of Chickaloon and workers were able to keep the fuel from entering two nearby rivers. The truck accident area is about 78 miles northeast of Anchorage in the south central section of the state.

On Thursday afternoon 53 year old Tracie Lyons of Valdez, AK was driving a 2003 Vanderbilt semi tanker truck east on the Glenn Highway, also known as Alaska State Highway 1. He had just picked up approximately 8,800 gallons of diesel fuel and was headed back to Valdez. Mr. Lyon’s was driving the tanker truck for Big State Logistics Inc, a trucking company based out of Valdez and Fairbanks, AK.

The truck accident occurred just after 4:00 p.m. Thursday afternoon as Mr. Lyons drove near the town of Chickaloon, at Mile Marker 78 on the highway. The truck driver was going into a curve near the Chickaloon River Bridge when he suddenly lost control of the semi tanker. The 18 wheeler rig tipped and then rolled over onto its right side, taking out about 200 feet of guardrail at the edge of the highway.

The force of the truck accident damaged one of the hatches on the tanker section and diesel fuel began to spill out onto the highway at a rate of 3 to 5 gallons per minute. The semi tanker would lose approximately 2,400 gallons of its load, some of it spilling down the side of the embankment above the Chickaloon River.


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Emergency personnel from the Mat-Su, Palmer, and Sutton boroughs responded to the truck accident site. The truck driver, Mr. Lyons, was treated and stabilized at the scene and then transported by ambulance to the Mat-Su Medical Center. The driver had minor injuries and was released after a few hours.

Teams from several departments reported to the site of the truck accident and began to work on cleaning up and containing the diesel fuel spill. The rollover accident and spill occurred near both the Chickaloon River and the Matanuska River and crews worked for hours to keep the environmentally hazardous material from entering the water.

Officials with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation were at the scene to supervise the clean-up activities and prepare a report on the incident. A team from the DEC brought a second tanker to the truck accident site and offloaded the approximately 6,400 gallons of fuel that remained in the overturned semi. They also drained about 170 gallons of fuel from the truck’s gas tanks. Once the semi tanker truck was completely empty it was pulled back up on its wheels and then towed to Palmer, AK.

The clean-up of the truck accident site would last into the night. Additional supplies were brought to the area Thursday evening and crews worked to clean the approximately 10 foot spill that went down the slope toward the river and saturated the ground. Alaska State Troopers closed the eastbound lanes of Glenn Highway and diverted traffic for several hours. One lane was finally opened back up Thursday evening.

A manager with Big States Logistic Inc was interviewed after the truck accident in regards to Mr. Lyons. The truck driver had over 35 years of experience and is considered a very safe and responsible driver. According to the manager of the Valdez Terminal, Mr. Lyons was not known to speed and was a “conservative driver”. They believe that he may have been distracted as he took the turn or the load may have shifted, throwing the tanker off balance and causing it to flip over on its side.

At this time no charges have been brought and the truck accident remains under investigation.

Gordon Elias & Seely, LLP recommend that if you know anyone who has been injured or killed as the result of a commercial truck accident involving a semi truck, 18 wheeler, big rig, tractor trailer or bus, tell them to immediately contact a qualified truck accident lawyer for advice. Often times the truck company and the truck driver will be from other states other than where the accident occurred. Truck accident attorneys often times have relationships with other experienced truck accident attorneys licensed in other states. Gordon, Elias & Seely LLP are licensed in Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana and Washington, DC and have informal relationships with other truck accident lawyers. For more information, visit their page about Alaska truck accidents or call 800.773.6770.

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