Driver dies in I-91 fuel truck rollover

  • A tanker truck roll over with a fluid spill caused local and state police to close off sections of Interstate 91, and consider the possibility of evacuating residents near the scene, early Wednesday afternoon. RECORDER STAFF

  • A tanker truck overturned on Route 91 north around noon on Wednesday, just before the parking area and Exit 24, closing both north and southbound lanes. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • A foam truck from Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee arrives to scene of a tanker truck overturned on Route 91 north around noon on Wednesday, just before the parking area and Exit 24, that closed both north and southbound lanes. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Emergency workers on the scene of a tanker truck that overturned on Route 91 north around noon on Wednesday, just before the parking area and Exit 24, that closed both north and southbound lanes. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • A tanker truck overturned on Route 91 north around noon on Wednesday, just before the parking area and Exit 24, closing both north and southbound lanes. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • A tanker truck overturned on Route 91 north around noon on Wednesday, just before the parking area and Exit 24, closing both north and southbound lanes. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • A foam truck from Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee sprays foam on a tanker truck that overturned on I-91 north around noon on Wednesday, just before the parking area and Exit 24, closing both north and southbound lanes. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

For the Gazette
Published: 6/20/2018 6:38:11 PM

WHATELY — The driver of a tanker truck died following a rollover crash on Interstate 91, state police announced Wednesday night.

Police withheld the driver’s identity pending family notification.

The truck, which was carrying gasoline, rolled over around noon on I-91 north, just past the Christian Lane overpass. The crash led to the closure of the highway and a precautionary evacuation of the elementary school.

All traffic was diverted onto Route 5 & 10, which was heavily congested as a result. The interstate was expected to remain closed around Whately until about midnight, although the northbound lane traffic may still be rerouted Thursday morning depending on the timeline of the state police investigation.

The driver of the Brown Bear Transportation truck was pronounced dead on the scene.

A company representative, reached before police said the driver was deceased, declined to comment. Brown Bear Transportation is a part of Roberts Energy of Springfield, which supplies motor fuels, heating fuels and lubricants to commercial clients.

The crash took place in the northbound right lane. Traffic had been limited to one lane because of construction for several miles when the incident occurred.

Emergency personnel found the truck had skirted off the road toward the shoulder and eventually rolled over on the slope. Fuel was leaking from the truck, Whately Police said on scene. Massachusetts State Police is investigating the crash, along with troopers assigned to the Northwestern district attorney’s office.

First responders initially considered evacuating residents living near the crash site. As a precaution, students and staff at the Whately Elementary School were taken to Frontier Regional School in South Deerfield, according to Deerfield Police.

Within a half-hour of the accident, traffic was being rerouted off I-91, pushing a majority of vehicles onto 5 & 10. Drivers could get back on I-91 northbound at Exit 25 in Deerfield, or southbound in Hatfield. Both ways remained closed to the public as fire departments worked through the afternoon.

Foam trucks were called in from the Westover Air Reserve Base and from the Orange Fire Department. The Westover truck sprayed foam over the tanker around 1 p.m. as a state police helicopter circled over the highway.

Fire departments from across the region lined up along the entry point to the highway near Tom’s Hot Dogs. A command center was set up on the rest area off the shoulder on I-91 in Deerfield.

Trains on nearby tracks were held up most of the afternoon. Passengers coming north on the Vermonter saw the service end at Springfield, from where Amtrak was to provide buses for customers up to St. Albans, Vt., the end of the line, a representative from Amtrak said. On Thursday, the Vermonter passenger rail service will be modified similarly, with buses provided from St. Albans to Springfield, and with the train leaving from there.




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