Tanker accident closes I-95 lanes

Posted Dec. 26, 2008, at 8:41 p.m.

ORONO, Maine — An empty fuel tanker truck that left the road and crashed in a gully in the median of Interstate 95 early Friday morning after the driver apparently fell asleep, caused the southbound lanes of the roadway to be blocked later in the day for its removal.

“We needed both lanes to do that,” said Maine State Police Trooper Josh D’Angelo, after he climbed out of the ditch containing the mangled truck.

The silver and blue truck and oil tanker, driven by William Fitzherbert, 52, of Washburn, came to rest in the ravine among a stand of trees, some broken.

“It would appear to us that he fell asleep,” said Sgt. Ted Millett of the Maine State Police. “There were no skid marks or indications” he tried to stop his truck.

He added, “The driver could not remember what happened.”

The southbound truck went off the roadway around 4 a.m.

D’Angelo, who was the first officer to arrive at the crash scene, found Fitzherbert talking on his cell phone while sitting in the passenger seat of a small truck whose driver stopped to help.

Fitzherbert, who was driving a John T. Noble truck, did not appear to be seriously injured, but he was taken to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor for evaluation, the trooper said.

“It’s a fuel truck and he was heading down from Caribou to the Cold Brook Road,” to Cold Brook Energy Inc., D’Angelo said. The oil tanker was empty so no oil was spilled.

At about 11 a.m., Maine State Police shut down the southbound lanes of the interstate between the Stillwater Avenue and Kelly Road exits to allow a huge wrecker to get the damaged truck and fuel tanker out of the median. A long line of southbound traffic was diverted onto Stillwater Avenue for about an hour until one lane of the interstate could be reopened.

“I would say it’s totaled,” Millett said of the fuel truck. “I believe the axle separated from the truck.”

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