WILLIAMSBURG, KY – A semi driver died Thursday morning, February 17, after being involved in a truck accident on a highway in Whitley County, Kentucky. The tractor trailer was traveling on Interstate 75 near the city of Williamsburg when the driver went off the road and crashed. The truck accident area is the far south part of Kentucky, about 70 miles north of Knoxville, Tennessee and about 194 miles east of Abingdon, Virginia.
Early Thursday morning 56 year old David A. McHenry of Massillon, Ohio was driving a 2009 Volvo semi trailer truck through south Kentucky. The tractor trailer was carrying a cargo of industrial sized cans of pizza sauce at the time of the truck accident. The semi truck is owned by Lorimar Materials Management based out of Massillon, OH.
Just before 4:30 a.m. Thursday morning Mr. McHenry had reached Whitley County, KY and was driving south on Interstate 75. As he was approaching the city of Williamsburg, the semi driver suddenly lost control of the tractor trailer near mile marker 13. According to reports on the truck accident, the 18 wheeler went off the highway behind the guardrail and crossed over a ravine running alongside the interstate. The semi truck went about 200 feet before crashing into a stand of trees. The semi trailer then flipped over on its right side, trapping the driver inside the cab section. The impact broke open the trailer section and an unknown amount of the canned pizza sauce spilled out alongside the interstate.
No other persons or vehicles were involved in the truck accident.
Williamsburg and Whitley County Fire and Rescue emergency personnel quickly responded to the overturned 18 wheeler. Paramedics made contact with the truck driver and were able to speak to him for a short time but the man’s condition suddenly worsened. Unfortunately, Mr. McHenry suffered fatal internal injuries in the truck accident and died while the rescue team was trying to extricate him from the overturned tractor trailer. The driver was pronounced dead at the scene by Whitley County Coroner Andy Croley.
Police took control of the crash site and began diverting motorists around the scene of the truck accident. The right lane of the interstate was closed and drivers were forced into the remaining lanes. The crash caused delays throughout the Thursday morning commute, with traffic on southbound I-75 coming to a crawl at times as emergency vehicles moved in and out of the area.
Highway crews were brought to the crash site and used a heavy duty tow truck to pull the flipped tractor trailer back up on its wheels. Once the semi trailer was upright it was towed off the southbound lanes of I-75. The crew also worked to clear the spilled cargo of pizza sauce and other debris off the highway.
All southbound lanes were reopened by 11:00 a.m. Thursday morning, more than 6 hours after the truck accident.
Authorities have reconstructed the single vehicle crash but have not yet released their final report. They did confirm that the semi driver, Mr. McHenry, was wearing his seat belt at the time of the truck accident. According to officials, the driver reportedly told first responders that he had fallen asleep at the wheel just before he went off the road and crashed into the trees. Police investigators said that they do not suspect drugs or alcohol were factors in the fatal crash but a toxicology screening will be performed, which is required after commercial truck accidents. It is not known if investigators will look at the driver’s log book to determine if he was taken the required rest breaks.
No charges have been made at this time and the truck accident remains under investigation.
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