Emergency officials worked for seven hours to clear an overturned trailer and a 55,000-pound steel beam from a 25-mph turn along U.S. 219 between Parsons and Thomas Wednesday.
An Argee Transport truck heading north toward Petersburg was transporting the steel beam to a bridge site along the route of Corridor H, which is currently under construction. The truck was the first of three transporting beams to the site Wednesday, officials said.
According to the driver, who declined to give his name, during the right-hand turn up the steep grade, his escort was unable to halt an oncoming vehicle which was coming down the hill at about 10:30 a.m.
Workers pick-up a steel beam and trailer that flipped in Tucker County
To properly make the turn, his truck initially took the turn wide. To avoid the vehicle, he turned the truck's wheels tighter and began to feel the trailer shake.
"The weight, it just started bouncing," the driver said. "(I was) getting ready to bail out in case the truck flipped over. That was the first thing on my mind."
The trailer and the beam fell to the inside corner of the road and ended up across both lanes.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Casey Houser
A steel beam on the trailer of an Argee Transport truck blocks traffic on U.S. 219 between Parson and Thomas Wednesday. The beam was being moved to Petersburg at the location of a bridge which will be located along Corridor H.
Chains holding the beam to the truck's cabin snapped while the chains holding the other end of the beam to the trailer remained in tact.
The cabin remained upright while the trailer lay on its side.
"Ten years of driving and this is the first time something like this has happened," the Argee driver said.
After the accident, Cpl. D. W. Burge of the West Virginia State Police spoke to both motorists. No one was charged at that time and the driver of the oncoming vehicle was allowed to leave the scene. No injuries were reported.
Cars were backed up above and below the scene of the accident. To let them by, available space in the grass-covered ditch between the truck's cabin and the hillside was filled in with gravel by the state Department of Highways.
"They were here within four or five minutes (of being called)," Burge said, commending the DOH's quick response.
Several dump trucks moved gravel to the site and a backhoe flattened the area. Cars and heavy trucks from both directions were able to pass the scene and were escorted by a DOH truck on each pass.
One Nelson Limited Inc. and two Elkins Truck Service recovery trucks accompanied a Nelson Towing crane in the mixed crew's first attempt at upending the beam.
The crane lifted the trailer end of the beam and the service trucks tried to pull it upward with cables. This feat was unsuccessful, as a cable snapped on an Elkins recovery truck.
Afterward, the two Elkins trucks left the scene and a larger rescue truck from Summers Towing and Repair of Morgantown was brought to the scene. A second Nelson Towing truck also arrived.
James Nelson, of Nelson Towing, said that the Summers truck was rated for 65 tons of lifting capacity. He added that the Nelson Limited truck was rated for 45 tons and the crane was rated for 50 tons.
The second attempt featured the two Nelson Towing trucks on the outside of the curve, holding the beam with cables.
Summers Towing workers attached the crane on their truck to the opposite side of the beam, on the inside corner of the turn.
Nelson lifted the rear end of the beam with his crane, and the Summers team lifted the beam off the truck's cabin. The front end of the beam was placed on the road as the Argee driver moved his truck to the side of the road.
Summers workers adjusted their cables to allow them to lift and rotate the beam counter-clockwise, to stand it upright.
Nelson lifted the rear end of the beam as Summers workers rotated the front. They were able to move the beam and trailer to their original positions.
The front end of the beam was then lifted so that the Argee driver could back up under the beam and reattach it to the truck's hitch.
After an inspection by Argee drivers, the truck was able to drive away from the scene.