Local News

Tanker truck explodes on I-440; witnesses pull driver to safety

Posted August 26, 2008 1:07 a.m. EDT
Updated August 27, 2008 6:04 a.m. EDT

— A tanker truck carrying 10,000 gallons of gasoline caught fire overnight on Interstate 440 in Raleigh, closing the highway for a time and lighting the night sky with flames.

It happened around midnight on the Inner Loop of the Beltline just before Rock Quarry Road. The road was closed early Tuesday, but lanes re-opened by 6:30 a.m.

Police identified the driver as Anthony White, 48, of Graham. His tanker belonged to Erwin Oil Company of Durham, according to the police report.

White suffered life-threatening injuries and burns. Emergency crews took him to WakeMed. he was later transfered to UNC Hospitals, where he was listed in critical condition Wednesday morning.

Witness K.C. Minter said he was one of four people who pulled White to safety after the crash.

“He must have been driving between 70 and 80 mph. He didn’t make the turn (and went) into the shoulder. The tanker rolls over, and it blows up about 2 or 3 seconds later," Minter said. "All of 40 was on fire."

There were several small explosions as the fire raged. Firefighters estimated the truck had been carrying 10,000 gallons of gasoline when it rolled. Tankers like the one that crashed normally have several tanks within the trailer.

"There was no way you could just drive by," Minter said. "We got around the tanker truck and found the driver about 10 feet from the truck. Me and three other people managed to drag him to safety and waited for EMS to show up."

Yasmanny Rodriguez, another witness who helped the driver, said White "was burnt really bad."