I-85 reopened after truck hauling blasting materials overturns

Posted on: 7:44 am, October 22, 2012, by , updated on: 06:00am, October 23, 2012

ARCHDALE, N.C. — A truck hauling blasting materials overturned Monday morning on I-85, prompting evacuations and major traffic delays in Randolph County.

According to Randolph County EMS, the crash happened shortly after 6:45 a.m. in the northbound lanes of I-85 at milemarker 111 near Main Street / U.S. Highway 311 near High Point.

Around 3:15 p.m., officials said the southbound lanes of I-85 had reopened and and the evacuation was lifted.  The northbound lanes reopened around 5:45 p.m.

The driver of the Orica USA Inc. truck was taken to High Point Regional Hospital before being flown to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. At an afternoon news conference, a spokesperson with the Guil-Rand Fire Department said the driver was in “critical condition” when he was transported from the scene.

His exact condition is unknown, however EMS officials said he was “conscious and communicating with medical staff” as of 1 p.m.

“At this point we do not have any idea what caused the crash. The driver was in critical condition when he left the scene,” said Steven Barr with the Guil-Rand Fire Department.

The truck was carrying an ammonium nitrate slurry and blasting caps. The design of the truck “segregates the materials to limit the chance of ignition,” officials added.

EMS officials said there were less than 100 lbs. of explosives inside the truck.

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High Point police initially described the truck’s cargo as “dynamite,” however Orica USA officials said the explosives are instead “blasting materials” intended for use at a “local mining quarry site.”

Authorities initially diverted traffic from both directions of the interstate onto Main Street.  Several hours later, a the closure was expanded due to heavy traffic conditions.

At the time, officials recommended evacuating buildings and homes within 1/2 mile of the intersection of Archdale Road and I-85.  The evacuation has since been lifted.

“In the sense of public safety, we decided that we needed to go with a half-mile radius,” Barr said.

Vivian Kennedy, who lives near Balfour Road and Archdale Road, said she evacuated shortly after hearing about the accident.

“I didn’t even brush my teeth I was in such a hurry to get out of the house,” Kennedy said.

A Randolph County Schools spokeswoman said Trindale Elementary School was evacuated at the request of authorities.  The students were taken to Archdale Elementary School.

Parents were able pick up their children from Archdale Elementary School, however it was not mandatory that they do so.

A spokeswoman with the Randolph County Board of Elections said the one-stop early voting site on Balfour Drive in Archdale was temporarily closed due to the crash. Early voting sites at the Board of Elections Office and the Randolph County Office Building in Asheboro remained open.

No other information was provided.

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