State Police said today a blown tire may have caused the accident yesterday that killed the driver of a gasoline tanker truck on a Beltway ramp near Glen Burnie.
The tanker, carrying 9,000 gallons of gasoline, exploded and burned.
Trooper First Class Michael Grant of the Glen Burnie barracks said the cause of the accident remains under investigation, but the blown tire seems the strongest possibility.
In a preliminary reconstruction of the accident, Grant said a gouge in the ramp pavement next to the tanker's skid marks may have been caused by a tire rim striking the pavement.
"That could mean the driver lost control of the tanker when the tire blew out," said Grant.
The driver, Tyrone Hudson, 44, of the 6600 block of Dogwood Road in Woodlawn, was partially ejected from his overturned cab and pronounced dead at the scene.
An autopsy was scheduled today to determine if Hudson died of crash injuries or was burned to death.
Grant said the tanker's maintenance records will be checked to see if any notations were made on the condition of the tires during the most recent inspection.
He said statements by motorists who witnessed the crash and fire that the tanker was speeding were inconsistent.
The posted speed limit on Md. 10 is 55 mph, Grant said.
He said he believed the speed limit on the two-lane ramp was more than the normal 25 or 35 mph for ramps.
Hudson, an employee of Baltimore Tank Lines Inc., in Glen Burnie, was hauling gasoline from the Amoco Oil Co. fuel depot at Curtis Bay to customers in the Baltimore area, the trooper said. The driver was on the ramp from northbound Md. 10 to westbound Interstate 695 at 5:10 p.m. when he lost control of the vehicle and it overturned several times.
The tanker exploded when it struck the road, sending a huge ball of fire into the air.
Smoke climbed hundreds of feet into the air and was visible for several miles.
Capt. Gary Scheckells of the Anne Arundel County Fire Department said nearly 40 firefighters responded and immediately extinguished the fire around the cab where the trapped driver died.
No injuries were reported among firefighters.
Scheckells said the fire was allowed to burn out. He said that pouring a huge amount of water on the flames would have increased the area of the fire and produced a run-off that would have damaged the environment.
"We knew the driver was dead," said Scheckells, "so we extinguished the fire in the cab and let the blaze in the tanker take care of itself."
County and State Police detoured rush-hour traffic away from the crash. Both loops of the Beltway were shut down for about an hour, but the inner loop between Md. 10 and Ritchie Highway was shut for at least three hours while the tanker burned.
A dispatcher at the Glen Burnie barracks said Md. 10 was reopened to traffic about 11:40 p.m.