Port Deposit cleanup continues from fatal tanker crash and explosion

  • Flames shoot skyward after tanker truck carrying gasonline crashed and burned at the bottom of a steep hill going into Port Deposit Friday night. The driver was killed.
Flames shoot skyward after tanker truck carrying gasonline… (Photo courtesy of Mike Lipka…)
August 28, 2012|AEGIS STAFF REPORT

Port Deposit hopes to beef up traffic enforcement following Friday night's fatal crash and explosion of a loaded gasoline tanker truck.

Repairs to utilities and other cleanup activities were largely wrapped up by Tuesday in the town after a tractor trailer crashed and became engulfed by fire Friday night, killing the truck driver, a Maryland man, Maryland State Police said.

Mayor Wayne Tome said Monday he would be meeting with the Cecil County Sheriff's Office soon to help better enforce the restriction on trucks over five tons from entering the town.

"The rule has only been in place for three months," he noted. "We are trying to do our best to try to beef up the enforcement."

Tome said many drivers think they can save a minute and avoid the toll on I-95 by cutting through Port Deposit, and they try to get away with breaking the new law, which Tome said will take time to get used to.

"It's kind of like with any rule," he said.

Transportation officials are also investigating the crash, about which the truck company, Coraluzzo Trucking Company of Vineland, N.J., had few comments.

The driver was identified as Brandon Logan, 35, of Windsor Mill. He had been making a delivery to a gas station in the Conowingo area, company benefits administrator Frank Peretti said.

Peretti said he could not disclose any more information about the driver's background or history with the company.

"It was very unfortunate. He was a very good employee," Peretti said.

He said the accident is undoubtedly not an isolated incident, as the company has been in existence since the 1940s.

"I am sure they must have had an accident like this," he said, but added: "This is not something that happens very often. It's a shock for everyone."

Fire companies from Harford and Cecil counties responded to the scene of the crash around 9 p.m. at the intersection of Main Street and Route 222 (Bainbridge Road), where there is a sweeping curve on a steep hill coming west from I-95 into the town, which sits along the shore of the Susquehanna River.

State police said it appeared the driver of the truck lost control entering the curve and the truck veered out of control toward the river, turned over and then caught fire and exploded.

One person who was driving down the hill on Route 222 within an instant of the crash, said she head several loud booms that sounded like explosions and saw a fireball shooting into the air.

Sgt. Joseph Comer, night duty officer at the Maryland State Police North East Barrack, said the driver of the truck was pronounced dead at the scene.

He also said no other vehicles were involved and no other injuries had been reported.

"The truck flipped over and caught fire," Comer added.

The fire was brought under control before midnight; however, Route 222 and the south end of Main Street remained blocked off Saturday and most of Sunday, as crews from the town, Delmarva Power and Norfolk Southern Railroad worked to replace poles and power lines had been knocked down by the truck.

According to Comer, the truck had been removed by a wrecker before 6 a.m. Saturday, but there were still poles and wires down in the area and some people in the area were without power most of the day Saturday.

The fire from the truck did not spread to nearby buildings, despite earlier reports to the contrary, Comer said. No other vehicles were involved.

Maryland State Police said the truck was carrying gasoline, despite initial reports from police that the cargo was propane.

"Things are getting back to normal," Tome had said late Saturday afternoon. "Utilities are still being restored."

Tome said he was glad no civilians were hurt and appreciated the efforts by people who helped out. He predicted things would return to normal by Sunday.

Tome said he was helping shore up a foreclosed house on Main Street when the crash occurred. Like several people in the area, he took a photograph of the fireball from the explosion with his phone camera.

The area where the crash occurred is at the bottom of a steep hill where Route 222 makes a sweeping curve north to become Main Street, which then runs through the town parallel to the east shore of the Susquehanna River. The town's Marina Park is also by the crash site, as is a freight railroad line owned by Norfolk Southern Railroad, which runs through Port Deposit parallel to the river.

The truck ended up near an open area between the road and the railroad.

Photographs taken Saturday morning showed bits of wreckage remained, and marker paint lines had been sprayed on the ground around where the truck burned. Trains were running again after being kept out of the area following the crash, according to state police.

Delmarva Power spokesman Bill Yingling said 148 customers lost power as a result of the accident.

The majority had their power back by 4 a.m. Saturday. All customers had power restored by 6 p.m. Saturday, Yingling said Sunday afternoon.

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