North River Bridge, recent truck spills, pig spill
Daniel Maurer/AP

Pig Spill Hogs Interstate in Iowa

September 12, 2008 05:28 PM
by Anne Szustek
A truck that swerved around a construction zone on Interstate 35 just south of Des Moines, Iowa, dumped 156 pigs on the freeway early Friday morning.

Accident Leaves Driver, Pigs in a Poke

The truck, heading southbound, tried to duck around construction near the Martinsdale exit, about 25 miles south of Des Moines. After driver Jason Johnson, of Mallard, Iowa, overcorrected, the truck overturned, spilling the 156 pigs it was transporting.

Johnson was quoted by Internet Broadcasting as saying, “I hit the shoulder, it was soft enough that it sucked me in. I wasn’t able to get it back on the road, caught the bridge and ended up wrecking my truck and trailer.”

Johnson was charged with failure to maintain control by the Iowa State Police. He sustained no injuries other than some stiffness. About half of the pigs did not fare as well, however, and died in the crash. Others were taken out from the truck’s roof, which, with the trailer tipped over, had become the side of the trailer.

Traffic backed up for three miles on both southbound lanes of I-35. The truck rolled over onto the North River Bridge, blocking off a possible traffic reroute.

Local farmers, drivers and firefighters volunteered to sort out the mess. Nearby resident Bill McKibben and his father Barry loaded their family’s cattle panels and went to the accident scene after receiving a call around 2:20 a.m.

“By the time we got there, the hogs were pretty well rounded up and in place,” Bill McKibben told the Des Moines Register. “Most of the hogs were happy to be lying down on the damp bridge.”
One lane of southbound I-35 was opened around 10 a.m. Friday, with the other free for traffic about an hour later.

Related Topics: Other recent truck spills

The Houston, Chicago and Orlando areas have seen the sweeter side of truck spills.

During afternoon rush hour on July 17, a truck spilled 5,000 gallons of molasses on Texas Highway 6 near Sugar Land, Texas, shutting down a section of the road until midnight. Pat Pollicoff, a spokesperson for the city of Sugar Land, told the Houston Chronicle that there was “no environmental problem, just healthy, all natural molasses.”

A trailer transporting 14 tons of Oreo Double Stuf brand cookies tipped over I-80 near Morris, Ill. in May, flinging the cookies in their cellophane wrappers over the roadway and median. Kris Habermehl, traffic reporter for Chicago CBS affiliate WBBM, said when checking out the site from his helicopter, “You don’t want to lose your cookies this early in the morning—wait, that didn’t sound right.”

On April 24, a semi-trailer overturned and spilled Jell-O snacks over I-95 in St. John’s County, Fla. The interstate was shut down as authorities cleaned up the “slippery mess.” The driver was trapped inside the cab, but was rescued and airlifted for injuries.

In separate incidents, two trailers full of bees, one in New Brunswick, Canada, and the other near Sacramento, Calif., tipped over earlier this year. In the New Brunswick spill, a truck jackknifed on the Trans-Canada Highway the morning of June 30, releasing 12 million honeybees.

The Sacramento accident occurred on March 16. Bee populations are falling steeply, making the insects a pricy commodity—especially in central California, where they are vital in pollinating almond orchards.



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