Heavy load rolls

A concrete truck that rolled over Friday morning stopped traffic from both directions in the 3400 block of Fifth Avenue South.

Initial reports from the scene by the Fort Dodge Police Department suggest the driver was eastbound when he attempted to switch lanes. At the last second, he spotted a vehicle in his path and swerved to avoid a collision. The weight of the loaded truck shifted, and he lost control. The truck toppled over and spun around, leaving it to face westward in the westbound lanes of Fifth Avenue South.

The driver was removed from the cab and taken to Trinity Regional Medical Center for treatment of minor injuries, said Lt. Matt Wilson, of the FDPD.

“He is very lucky,” said David Choate, of Hamilton Redi Mix, the company that owns the truck. “That’s a lot of weight, and he could have been more seriously hurt.”

The truck was full of concrete and on its way to a construction project near the Super 8, 3755 Fifth Ave. S., Choate said.

The drum contained 10 yards, which amounts to 40,000 pounds of concrete. Because the drum stopped rotating when the truck rolled over, the concrete inside set up and hardened within 45 minutes of the accident.

Company officials said they believe the truck was totaled. Even if the concrete could be chemically softened and removed from the drum, once a truck tips when carrying that kind of weight the alignment and frame cannot be properly straightened, they explained.

While concrete wasn’t a concern for the Region V Hazmat Response Team, the diesel and oil from the truck did require its expertise for cleanup.

“Any time there is an accident like this, we want to drain that fuel tank before the truck is uprighted,” said Tom Ubben, Region V Hazmat Team coordinator.

Diesel from the fuel tanks and oil from the gears and pumps used to turn the drum spilled onto the street from the accident, but only a small amount of the fluid made it into the storm sewer drain before the team arrived on scene, Ubben said. Bumpers were put in place to block further leakage, and peat moss was laid down to absorb the fluid. Additionally, an air pump system was used to vacuum up any pools of fluid, and air monitoring of the drain area was done to ensure the impact on the storm sewer system remained minimal.

To right the cement truck, a crew from Tony’s Tire, Truck and Auto Center, of Webster City, arrived with two tow trucks, one especially equipped with a boom that can swing into place like a crane.

“We use it specially for big rigs and semi trucks and trailers,” said Tony Nessa, owner of the tow service. “We have six of them and use them on all our major rollovers.”

His company recently spent 22 hours during the last snow storm retrieving big vehicles and semi-tractors from accidents and pulling them from ditches along Interstate 35 in Cerro Gordo County. In comparison, the overturned cement truck only stopped traffic for four hours total, with Nessa’s part in the clean-up taking less than 30 minutes.