Chain-reaction crash leads to acid spill

July 25, 1999|By Amy Oakes | Amy Oakes,SUN STAFF

A tractor-trailer, traveling south on Interstate 95 to Baltimore City, jackknifed yesterday morning north of the Beltway near White Marsh, spilling hydrochloric acid and prompting heavy traffic delays for several hours, state police said.

Witnesses told police that a Chevrolet Celebrity was stopped in the middle lane of the interstate about 7: 30 a.m. when it was struck from behind by a Dodge pickup truck and sent spinning into the far left lane. The tractor-trailer, carrying several 5-gallon containers of the highly corrosive acid, collided with the car, said Trooper Joseph Comer of the JFK Highway barracks.

The driver of the Celebrity, Howard Howell, 34, of Patterson, N.J., was taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center with facial injuries. He was listed in stable condition. The driver of the pickup truck, Ronald Warren, 54, of Frost, Texas, was taken to Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center and also was listed in stable condition.

Joseph Toney, 63, of the 7100 block of Minna Road in Baltimore County, who was driving the tractor-trailer for New Penn Motor Express, was not injured, police said.

Comer said he was waiting to speak with Howell, who suffered a broken jaw, to determine the cause of the accident and whether charges will be filed.

The chain-reaction collision caused the tractor-trailer's containers to push forward and leak acid into the trailer and onto I-95, Comer said. "It wasn't a substantial amount," Comer said. "Still, it was an acid that needed to be taken seriously."

Hydrochloric acid vapor and mist can cause severe eye and skin irritation and result in respiratory and digestive tract problems. Contact with the liquid can cause severe burns.

Police said no injuries resulted from the spill.

Police shut down 2 1/2 miles of the interstate from the accident site to the White Marsh exits while hazardous-materials crews cleaned the spill. Traffic was diverted to the White Marsh Boulevard exits.

By the time I-95 reopened at 1 p.m., Comer said, traffic was backed up for 10 miles.

Duty officer Cpl. Michael Gavel said the closure confused motorists. Some drove over the median or turned northbound on southbound ramps, Gavel said. "They were creating a lot of problems for us," he said.

Pub Date: 7/25/99

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