An 18-wheeler carrying carrying Benzene, a flammable liquid, overturned in the median Tuesday morning. (Doris Maricle / American Press).
Last Modified: Wednesday, May 09, 2012 10:25 PM
JENNINGS — An 18-wheeler loaded with benzene overturned Tuesday, closing nearly 40 miles of Interstate 10 between Iowa and Crowley for most of the day.
State police reported that all lanes of I-10 were reopened by 6:45 p.m. The accident occurred at around 5 a.m. just east of Jennings.
The driver of the tractor-trailer, Hector Martinez, 28, of Channelview, Texas, received serious injuries when his eastbound vehicle entered the median and overturned, state police Sgt. James Anderson said.
Troopers said they believe Martinez, who had to be extricated from the vehicle, may have fallen asleep at the wheel. He was charged with careless operation and failure to wear a seat belt.
Eastbound traffic was backed up as far as U.S. 165, which forced police to close I-10 in both directions from Iowa to Crowley for nearly eight hours as crews transferred the flammable and toxic liquid to another tanker and cleared the wreckage.
A section of I-10 westbound was reopened at 5:40 p.m.
Louisiana State Police Emergency Services troopers, the Jennings Fire Department and other emergency personnel assisted in the transfer of the benzene. The Jeff Davis Parish Sheriff’s Office, Jennings police and other local law enforcement officials rerouted traffic and tried to control the gridlock.
Several minor accidents were reported throughout the day as a result of traffic congestion, troopers said.
No evacuations were required, but nearby Jennings High School was placed on standby as a shelter in place, school officials said.