Local News

Fuel Spill Could Keep U.S. 301 Closed for Days

Posted March 5, 2008 5:49 a.m. EST
Updated March 5, 2008 2:48 p.m. EST

— Authorities said a 2-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 301 in Wilson County could remain partially closed for days while clean-up continues from a fuel spill early Wednesday morning.

About 6,000 gallons of gasoline gushed out of the Wilco Transportation truck around 2:45 a.m. and splattered across the road, soaked into the median and swirled in a nearby creek. A major clean-up effort was underway.

The truck was carrying about 9,000 gallons of fuel, a full load for an 18-wheeler.

The truck, driven by 60-year-old Rudy Stout, was headed north on Highway 301 when it veered off the road, just north of N.C. Highway 581 between Lucama and Kenly.

The tanker hit a pine tree, rolled over and slid down the highway. A wheel popped off and the cab disconnected from the trailer, police said. The cab then ended up in the woods next to the southbound lane.

Stout was pinned inside for about an hour while rescue crews freed him. He was taken to Pitt Memorial Hospital and was in stable condition, though officials did not disclose the extent of his injuries.

Stout has been a driver for Wilco for two years, and he worked as a driver for other companies previous to that, officials said.

Firefighters sprayed foam on the road to contain the spill. Wilco officials hired a private company to clean up the fuel, which officials said could take days to fully clean.

"They'll excavate this and get it back to 100 percent," said Wilco Transportation Risk Manager Dan McCormick. "You'll never know an accident happened, except for that scar on that pine."

Approximately 60 people from emergency crews in three counties responded to the scene when the crash was first reported.

"Gas is very explosive, and you run the risk of having very intense fires," said Gordon Deano with Wilson County Emergency Management. "That's the reason foam was laid down. That's the reason we closed the highway."