April 19, 1997 in Idaho

Chemical-Laden Rig Crashes, Killing Driver Ecology Officials Check Site Of Plunge Into Creek


A fatal tractor-trailer rig crash closed Blewett Pass along U.S. 97 early Friday, the Washington State Patrol said.

The highway remained closed as state environmental officials attempted to determine whether chemicals carried in the truck had leaked.

The driver was thrown from the truck as it plunged 30 feet down an embankment into Swauk Creek Friday morning. The crash occurred about two miles south of the pass, the State Patrol said.

The driver’s identity was not immediately determined, the State Patrol said.

The truck was pulling two trailers. One contained 72 2-1/2-gallon containers of a garden pesticide called Lorsban, which is toxic and flammable. It was not immediately known whether any of the chemical leaked into Swauk Creek, Patrol Capt. T.A. Robbins said.

The state Department of Ecology must study the environmental hazards before the wreckage can be cleared, Robbins said.

Larry Goldstein of the Department of Ecology in Olympia said the chemical in Lorsban is considered moderately toxic to humans.

But the chemical, used to control insects on grain, fruit and vegetables, is highly toxic to freshwater fish and birds and “extremely poisonous” to wildlife and honeybees, Goldstein said.

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