Double-tanker rollover at Bluff Street-Snow Canyon intersection spills 6,300 gallons of milk

Wide-angle view of a rollover involving a semi pulling double tankers at the Bluff Street-Snow Canyon Parkway intersection, St. George, Utah, Oct. 7, 2018 | Photo courtesy of the Utah Department of Transportation, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A double-tanker semitractor hauling thousands of gallons of milk rolled while turning at a Bluff Street intersection, breaking open one of the tanks and sending milk pouring down the roadway Sunday morning.

A semitractor pulling double tankers full of milk rests against a pole after a rollover at the Bluff Street-Snow Canyon Parkway intersection, St. George, Utah, Oct. 7, 2018 | Photo courtesy of the Utah Department of Transportation, St. George News

Shortly after 8 a.m. officers and firefighters were dispatched to the rollover on Red Hills Parkway at the Bluff Street-Snow Canyon Parkway intersection, St. George Police Sgt. Spencer Holmes said.

Upon arrival, responders found the semi on its side with both tankers resting on a traffic control light and partially blocking four lanes in the intersection, with milk spilling from the front tanker. The driver was uninjured.

Officers closed multiple lanes initially and began directing traffic away from the intersection.

Firefighters stabilized both tanks to prevent further breakage while heavy wreckers began the process of pulling the double tanker to an upright position, which took more than two hours to complete.

At the time of the crash, the semi was southbound on Bluff Street approaching the intersection when the driver started into a left turn to head east on Red Hills Parkway.

As the truck accelerated slightly into the turn, the liquid gained momentum as it sloshed around in the tank and then flowed forward, Holmes said, causing the load to become more unbalanced and out of control as the weight shifted towards the front of the tanks and put pressure on the cab.

As the truck leaned into the turn, the liquid shifted in the same direction and then sloshed violently back the other way, causing the load to become even more unbalanced, which tipped both tankers over.

Rear view of semitractor-trailer pulling one tanker after the second tanker was separated during a rollover at the Bluff Street-Snow Canyon Parkway intersection, St. George, Utah, Oct. 7, 2018 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

The tankers crashed into the large pole supporting the intersection’s traffic control device, and the cab went over onto its side, popping out one of its windows.

At the same time, the internal pressure inside of the tankers caused the hull of the first tanker to “shrink like a coke can,” Holmes said, which breached the hull and sent more than 6,300 gallons of milk flowing down Bluff Street. The rear tanker was damaged but remained sealed.

The driver was able to crawl out of the cab through the open space created when the window popped out.

“The driver wasn’t going fast, he wasn’t reckless, but when he made that dramatic left turn, the weight of the milk in both tankers came forward and became unbalanced,” Holmes said.

Holmes explained that the design of a milk tanker is simple and fragile for cleaning purposes. To prevent growth of bacteria inside the tank, the inside is smooth and has no crevices or areas where germs can grow unnoticed, but the design can add to the instability of loads.

Further, it is impossible to completely stabilize a liquid load, Holmes said, making tankers more prone to having balance issues that can lead to rollovers since liquid is always in motion and is stored in a tank that is also in motion, creating even more movement.

A semitractor pulling a tanker is towed after a rollover at the Bluff Street-Snow Canyon Parkway intersection, St. George, Utah, Oct. 7, 2018 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Utah Department of Transportation’s Incident Management Team responded to assist with the cleanup and to assess the damage to the traffic light pole and the concrete around it. A curb was also extensively damaged when the tanker landed on it.

The St. George Police Department responded with multiple officers, assisted by the St. George Fire Department and UDOT.

This report is based on statements from police or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.  

Email: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

 

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6 Comments

  • DRT October 7, 2018 at 6:38 pm

    This article spells out one of the major problems with driving in Dixie.
    “The driver wasn’t going fast, he wasn’t reckless, but when he made that dramatic left turn, the weight of the milk in both tankers came forward and became unbalanced,” Holmes said.
    Sarge, I hate to tell you this, but that driver was obviously driving too fast for conditions! In this case the conditions being a liquid load with no tank baffles. (This is the voice of experience. I darn near rolled a fire pumper years ago…)
    But when law enforcement cannot recognize a driving problem when they see it…No wonder people drive like nuts here.
    Driver was one lucky rookie. Hope he can find another driving job, and has learned a bit from this experience.

  • Dolly October 7, 2018 at 7:14 pm

    Lets not cry over spilt milk…

    • DRT October 7, 2018 at 8:49 pm

      Anybody bring any cookies?

  • Carpe Diem October 7, 2018 at 9:33 pm

    Good thing it was cold today, I cruised up for one of those rare Bluff Street Milk Shakes.

  • KR567 October 8, 2018 at 8:45 am

    Well I’m sure this will result in a new gas tax

  • Mike P October 8, 2018 at 11:32 am

    LMAO ! I can’t believe they blamed this on the MILK !!! Tankers hauling liquid are (or should be) baffled to prevent this. Also, regardless of the “milk on the run” excuse, the driver is at fault, excess speed for the conditions.

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