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11/20/2013 2:00:00 PM
Tractor-Trailer Crashes, Spills Fuel in South Bristol
By J.W. Oliver

A tractor-trailer accident on Route 129 in South Bristol closed the road for about four hours and spilled 20-plus gallons of diesel fuel Nov. 14.

The driver, Joshua J. Bragdon, 36, of Naples, was taken by ambulance to the LincolnHealth - Miles Campus with non-life-threatening injuries. He was treated and released the same evening, LincolnHealth spokesman Alan Crowell said.

Bragdon was driving a 2012 International Harvester southbound on Route 129 around 5:15 to 5:30 p.m.

He was going down a hill south of Walpole Meeting House Road when, as he was "checking his paperwork," he hit a guardrail alongside the southbound lane, South Bristol Fire Chief Mark Carrothers said.

The truck continued to the end of the guardrail, went off the road on the southbound side, "veered back across" both lanes and went off the road again on the northbound side, Carrothers said. The cab crashed into ledge off the northbound lane, "jackknifing the truck and rupturing both fuel tanks."

"We had approximately 80 gallons in the tanks, both of them were ruptured, both of them were leaking, so I called in the hazmat teams from Newcastle and Bristol to come down and get the leaks under control, and Colby & Gale came down and pumped the tanks out for us," Carrothers said.

The fire chief estimated the leak at "well over 20 gallons" of diesel fuel.

"We had quite a huge puddle," Carrothers said. "We were lucky," he said, because the truck's tires had dug a trench in the ground that contained most of the fuel.

The Department of Environmental Protection responded to the scene and was scheduled to return Friday or Saturday to test the soil and decide whether to excavate the site, Carrothers said.

The fuel leak "was not only an environmental hazard, but it was also a very big fire hazard," Carrothers said. The fire department closed Route 129 from Harrington Road to Route 130, only reopening the road at about 9:15 p.m., after a tow truck removed the tractor-trailer.

The accident could have been worse. "As much real estate as he covered out of control, we were lucky there was nobody else on the road," Carrothers said.

Bragdon was "very lucky," Carrothers said, "because there's absolutely nothing left of the front of the truck."

The truck "ran into the rock ledge head-on ... luckily it didn't roll, luckily (Bragdon) didn't sustain major injuries," Carrothers said. He was wearing a seat belt, Carrothers said.

Lt. Rand Maker of the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office attributed the accident to driver distraction.

The truck is registered to Ryder Truck Rental Inc. of Hermon.

The South Bristol Fire Department was assisted at the scene by the Bristol and Newcastle fire departments, the Central Lincoln County Ambulance Service, Colby & Gale, the Department of Environmental Protection, the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office and the Maine State Police.

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