A 58-year-old Catonsville man was killed yesterday morning at Sykesville when his car collided head-on with a Southern States Cooperative fuel tanker.
The tractor-trailer spilled nearly 2,000 gallons of diesel fuel and gasoline into the roadway along Route 32 between Cooper Avenue and and Raincliffe Road.
George J. Kaczor of the first block of Golden Hill Court had been driving his 1989 Nissan Sentra south on Route 32 near the Westinghouse plant where he worked when the car crossed the center line and collided with the northbound truck about 9 a.m., according to Maryland State Police in Westminster.
The truck overturned, blocking the road in both directions, and began leaking its cargo from ruptured tanks. The car -- with a collapsed front end and cracked windshield -- came to rest in a ditch about 200 feet from the truck.
Mr. Kaczor, who police said sustained extensive head injuries, was pronounced dead at the scene. His body was taken to the state medical examiner's office in Baltimore.
First Sgt. Stephen Reynolds, a state police spokesman, said Mr. Kaczor's son told them his father had medical problems and might have been going to the doctor when the accident occurred.
The truck driver, Barry W. Amoss, 46, of the 10700 block of Route 99 in Woodstock, and his passenger, Roger W. Tracey Jr., 20, of the 7400 block of Centre Ave. in Sykesville, both sustained minor injuries and refused treatment from emergency personnel, Sergeant Reynolds said.
Lt. Bob Chesney of the Sykesville/Freedom Fire Department, one of the first to arrive on the scene, said a "hysterical" man ran into the fire station to report the accident.
He said the scene was frightening. "The engine [of the truck] was still running when we got here and I had to climb up into it to shut it off," said Mr. Chesney. "Everything out in the roadway is very flammable, so we had to be very careful."
Although the spill was considered serious and potentially dangerous, none of the nearby buildings -- the Westinghouse plant, the Springfield Hospital Center and Sykesville Middle School -- was evacuated.
Wayne Hawkins, a mechanic at Tom's Garage on Springfield Avenue, which runs parallel to Route 32, said he heard the collision from the auto shop.
"It sounded like thunder," Mr. Hawkins said. "I was standing in the bay area [front of the shop] and the first sound was like thunder. Then there was this succession of rumbles."
About 80 members of emergency service agencies -- including fire companies from Carroll and Howard counties, state police, the Baltimore County Hazardous Materials Unit and the Maryland Department of the Environment -- gathered at the scene to contain the spill.
The emergency crews prepared for their eight-hour chore by setting up a relief station where light food and drinks were served and a rehab center to rotate crews and check vital signs of emergency personnel.
The truck, with a cargo capacity of 2,800 gallons, was carrying equal amounts of diesel fuel and gasoline. About 1,800 gallons leaked into the road, the grass and a nearby culvert.
HazMat members and firefighters built a dike in the culvert using a material that absorbs fuel, but allows water to flow through freely.
Clean America, a Baltimore-based company, headed the cleanup. The crews deployed material to absorb the fuels on the road and sprayed foam over the truck and the road to contain fumes.
Southern States employees transferred the remaining 1,000 gallons of the cargo into another company vehicle.
The road, which was closed shortly after the crash, did not reopen until after 6 p.m. The State Highway Administration established a detour onto Main Street in Sykesville for motorists.