It probably wasn’t the sort of thing that came up when Don Quixote was going for his learner’s permit.
If you literally go tilting at windmills, as one truck driver found out Monday afternoon on Interstate 79, you’re going to be in for some heavy hassle – and a heavy traffic jam.
The driver was hauling the base of a windmill, the kind used in wind farms across the country, when a support pin in the middle of trailer holding up the whole thing worked its way loose, causing the load to shift.
All 200,000 pounds of it.
What ensued was a slowmotion slide across the shoulder and down a short embankment near milepost 144, as the massive cylinder had its own way with roadway inertia and Newtonian physics of the “You’re gonna need a bigger tow truck,” variety.
Monongalia Sheriff ‘s Dep. M.D. Stemple shook his head at the aftermath.
“Something that big is going to do exactly what it wants to do,” he said, as he stood along the shoulder of I-79 making sure other drivers heeded the orange cones put up to mark the mishap that happened at about 2:40 p.m.
“1/8It’s the3/8 first time I ever saw anything like that,” said Craig DeJulius, who was driving an escort car for the truck and its cargo, en route to a factory north of Johnstown, Pa.
The windmill base wasn’t exactly stirring up a breeze on I-79, DeJulius said. The entourage was traveling at a stately 6 mph, as per safety regulations.
“Next thing I know, the trailer goes right off the road, just like that,” he said.
Traffic came to a stop after that, as deputies shut down the northbound lane of the highway at the site of the wreck. Traffic eventually backed up past milepost 138 near Fairmont.
There were no injuries, Stemple said.
The driver declined to give his name or talk to media. He is an independent trucker hired by InTransit, a Pittsburgh transportation company, to make the haul, said Dan Lawson, the company’s safety inspector.
Lawson was an independent trucker for 35 years himself, he said, before taking the safety position with the company.
Safety was on his mind, he said, as he looked over the damage, which included at least six shredded tires and ruined rims on the double-axle trailer.
“At least the whole thing didn’t turn over on him,” he said. “Now, it’s just a matter of getting the trailer back on the road so we can get some new tires and wheels on it.”
It took three heavyduty trucks about five hours to do just that.
The trailer was back rolling (on damaged wheels) at 7:30 p.m.
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