Driver dies when his tanker hits car, overturns on Interstate 83

July 29, 1993|By Ed Brandt | Ed Brandt,Staff Writer

A tanker truck filled with lye crashed into a disabled car in the breakdown lane of Interstate 83, killing the truck driver in an explosion and seriously injuring the car driver, state police said.

The accident snarled traffic in both directions on I-83, although emergency officials said the tank's liquid -- which can cause serious skin and eye burns -- did not leak.

Police said the 2:40 p.m. accident occurred a quarter-mile north of the Beltway near Seminary Avenue when the northbound tanker veered into the right shoulder and struck the disabled car, which had its hazard lights flashing. The tanker overturned and exploded, killing the driver, Robert James Battista, 35, of York, Pa., police said.

The driver of the car, Robert Gerard Carr, 62, from Glenarm, suffered rib injuries and was taken by helicopter to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center. He was listed in serious but stable condition last night.

State police at the Golden Ring barracks said it is unknown why the North Industrial Chemical Co. tanker drifted into the emergency lane.

Although the truck exploded after toppling over, the truck's tank, which held between 1,000 and 3,500 gallons of sodium hydroxide, did not rupture, police said.

Southbound traffic resumed at 5 p.m., but the northbound lanes remained closed as of early this morning.

A vacuum truck was called to empty the tank of the liquid, which can be hazardous to inhale, and a state hazardous material team went to the scene. About 20 pieces of fire equipment and 75 firefighters responded to the emergency.

The traffic jam created by the accident on I-83 was compounded by another accident on the outer loop of the Beltway between Stevenson and Reisterstown roads. A car flipped over about 4:50 p.m., as traffic was working its way west from the Beltway backup caused by the I-83 accident. A Baltimore County police spokesman said there were injuries, but details weren't available.

The highway accidents created a ripple effect, backing up rush-hour traffic on York Road in Towson, Charles Street and Bellona Avenue east of Charles Street, as well as other roads in the 100-degree heat.

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