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Tractor-trailer overturns, spills materials

July 5, 2011

A tractor-trailer overturned Tuesday morning causing a large mulch mess in the roadway.

A truck driver traveling south on N.C. 16 in Conover at about 9 a.m. Tuesday attempted to make a left turn at a stop light on to Thornburg Drive. The driver, who wished to remain unidentified, said he is not sure why his tractor-trailer overturned.

"I made a left turn and looked up in my rear-view mirror and saw the trailer rolling," the driver said. "I was not going fast. It was a routine turn."

The driver said he's been driving tractor-trailers for about six years "off and on." He was hauling a type of landscaping material in the trailer, which was spilt along side of the road.

Conover Police Officer S.R. Roberts said, based on what the driver and witnesses said, speed was not an issue in the accident. She said witnesses said the truck was not speeding at the time of the turn, and the trailer just started "leaning over." Roberts said there might have been an issue with the weight of the load the driver was carrying to cause it to overturn.

Conover Lt. Shane Moore said while the driver may not have been going over the posted speed limit, he may have been going too fast for the size of his vehicle to handle the left turn onto Thornburg Drive.

Conover Deputy Fire Chief Bobby Hedrick said there was smoke coming from the tractor-trailer's impact with the road after the accident, which caused a small fuel leak on Thornburg Drive from the truck.

Hedrick said firefighters contained the leak, and it was not hazardous.

Moore said the accident is under investigation, and no charges were filed as of press time Tuesday.

The driver suffered no life-threatening injuries from the accident, but complained of a headache at the scene.

The scene took more than an hour to clean up Tuesday, which kept traffic from traveling from N.C. 16 to Thornburg Drive.

A similar accident
This was not the first time a tractor-trailer overturned at this location after making a left turn from N.C. 16 onto Thornburg Drive.

On July 8, 2009, a Tyson Foods tractor-trailer carrying chicken feed overturned after a driver may have "over-steered," according to a July 9, 2009, article in The O-N-E. The overturned truck caused 80,000 pounds of chicken feed to spill along the roadway, which took about six hours to clean up.

N.C. Highway Patrol responded to the 2009 accident, in addition to Conover emergency personnel. The trooper on the scene told The O-N-E that the tractor-trailer was not over its weight limit, and there appeared to be no violations involved in the accident. The driver of that truck also suffered minor injuries.

Sam Nichols, 12th division traffic engineer for N.C. Department of Transportation, said he was not aware of the two accidents at the intersection, but said many factors could have contributed to the incidents.

"There is no problem (at the intersection) that I know of," Nichols said, adding that if two tractor-trailers overturned in two years, the accident percentage is low compared to the number of tractor-trailer drivers making that turn daily.

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