Friday, October 7, UPDATED: 6:02 p.m.
By Norm Jones
police are blaming driver error for a traffic mess on Interstate 80 in
Columbia County Friday. Three tractor trailers hauling modular
homes and two pick-up trucks collided between the Buckhorn and
Lightstreet exits. The eastbound lanes of the interstate were
closed most of the day. The last blocked lane opened just before
One of homes being hauled came crashing to the
ground after two rigs with wide loads smashed together on the rain
soaked roads. One of the pick-up trucks was buried in the home.
Another went down an embankment.
Ernie Welch, a driver for Pinnacle Transportation,
said his company truck was in the right lane going slower than usual
because of heavy rain. He blames the crash on the driver of one
truck that was carrying a wide load. He said the driver moved
into the left lane and passed. State police said that is illegal
if you're carrying a wide load.
"We were just coming down here and the yellow
house there was going slow, running slow. We tried to pass him,
the yellow house came over hit our white house, moved our white house
into a jiggle. That's when all hell broke loose," said driver
James Watts. He was driving an escort car and saw the crash
happen. While he doesn't think a mistake was made, other
they would have followed the rules, we wouldn't be here right
now," said Welch.
A towing company had to bring out nearly every piece
of equipment to clear away the wreckage on the highway. By 1
p.m. they had one lane of the interstate open which allowed more
than 10 miles of backed up traffic to move slowly past the crash site.
State police said another wreck in the same area in
the westbound lanes was also due to driver error.
They think the driver of a tractor trailer was
rubbernecking, slammed on the brakes and jackknifed. He wasn't
Troopers said another rig flipped in the eastbound
lanes just a few miles away when a backlog of traffic braked
quickly and caught a trucker off guard.
Only two men had minor injuries in all the wrecks.
One had a broken arm, another, a cut on the head.
State police said the crash involving the trucks
with the modular homes is under investigation. They said they plan to