Traffic on Interstate 30 eastbound was backed up almost 10 miles this afternoon for almost three hours after a Freightliner driven by a man from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico crashed into a bridge around the 53 mile marker on I-30 eastbound and burst into flames.
Jose Valadez was driving the tractor trailer east around 2:30 p.m. when, according to Arkansas State Police, he said he fell asleep and drove into the guardrail leading up to the bridge taking out all 300 feet of it. The Freightliner then crashed into the bridge’s parapet and ground along the top of it before turning over on its driver side in the right lane and going up in flames. The crash also set the ditch on each side of the bridge on fire and dropped one of the trucks fuel tanks and 150 gallons of diesel fuel into the creek below. No other vehicles were involved in the crash.
The truck Valadez was driving belongs to TSI Trucking out of Jeffersonville, Indiana.
Witnesses reported that the truck exploded in flames before Valadez jumped out of the truck and ran to safety. He apparently avoided any serious injury.
Firefighters from Fair Hills Volunteer Fire Department and Prescott Fire Department responded to the fire. They were able to get the grass fires out and eventually the semi fire but the truck was completely destroyed from the crash and the blaze.
Bypass Diesel and Wrecker Service retrieved the debris from the creek and cleared debris from the interstate.
After the truck and trailer were moved into the ditch, one lane of I-30 was opened up to try and relieve some of the congestion. Much of the traffic was diverted at Exit 46 in Prescott onto Highway 67. Both lanes were opened back up around 5:25 p.m. but it took some time to get traffic flowing again.
The Arkansas State Police and Arkansas Highway Police were on scene to investigate the crash and manage the traffic jam.
Trooper Bryan Christenson investigated the crash. According to Christenson, Valadez was cited for careless and prohibited driving.