Semitrailer tips over on Diamond

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By Carol A. Clark

A semitrailer dumping rig unloading dirt for the Diamond Drive reconstruction project tipped over and onto a resident’s 6-foot-tall wooden fence Monday. The driver sustained minor burns to his left elbow during the accident, which occurred about 10:30 a.m. near the intersection at 36th Street.

A slight slope can be enough to cause a rig to tip over, according to Construction Safety Magazine, which states as end-dump truck bodies and semi-trailer dumping rigs get longer, the incidence of units tipping over has increased. Tipping accidents are more frequently connected with semitrailer rigs, than with straight trucks.

Los Alamos Fire Department Battalion Chief Richard Garcia explained Monday’s load of dirt shifted toward the driver’s side of the rig, which caused it to tip over when he raised the bucket.

Los Alamos County spokeswoman Julie Habiger issued a press release stating that while the accident did not occur in the roadway, Diamond Drive was closed from 36th Street to Alabama Street to provide a safe work zone for LAFD emergency response crews.

The New Mexico Department of Transportation was notified, arrived on scene and opened an investigation into the cause of the accident, Habiger said.

Diesel fuel leaking from the rig following the accident also brought out Los Alamos National Laboratory’s HAZMAT response team and EM&R to address the spill.

“At this point, crews have contained the spill and are conducting clean-up activities,” she said Monday afternoon. “There is no danger to the public.”

Garcia, who served as incident commander during the event, said 12 gallons of diesel at the most leaked out of the truck and was contained to the dirt area.

“HAZMAT put up a container and caught another few gallons,” he said. “Because of the leak, state police were called and they authorized LANL HAZMAT and EM&R to come out.”

A state police officer, backed by a Los Alamos police officer, put the driver through a field sobriety test at the scene. The driver passed the test.

“The driver declined transport so his wound was cleaned up and patched on site,” Garcia said.

A nearby phone line was damaged during the tipover. The damaged phone line did not pose any danger to the public, Habiger said, adding that the line belongs to Qwest.

Traffic returned to normal at about 4 p.m. One of the reasons it took a while, Garcia said, was because some fiber optic lines were near the tipped-over rig and Qwest and the Los Alamos Department of Utilities came out and evaluated the safest way to remove the massive vehicle.