UPDATE: Macungie Man Killed When Car, Tanker Collide on Buckeye Road Causing Fuel Spill; Witnesses Sought
State police seek witnesses to a fatal crash on Buckeye Road in Upper Milford that killed a Macungie man and resulted in a huge spill of diesel fuel.
A car collided with a diesel fuel truck at 9:52 p.m. Sunday in Upper Milford Township, killing a Macungie man and spilling thousands of gallons of diesel fuel, according to state police and emergency scanner transmissions.
The crash killed James F. Heller, 61, of Macungie, according to the Lehigh County Coroner's office.
Heller was driving a Chevrolet Cavalier west on Buckeye Road and a tractor trailer driven by Matthew Phillip Wise, 26, of Fort Bragg, N.C., was attempting to turn east on Buckeye Road from Tank Farm Road, state police at Fogelsville said. The car reportedly hit the tractor trailer.
Buckeye Road was closed between Tank Farm Road and Chestnut Street and might remain closed most of today (Monday) for the fuel spill cleanup, according to a Morning Call story.
Anyone who witnessed the accident is asked to call state police at 610-395-1438.
Emergency scanner reports Sunday night said the car reportedly was wedged under the tanker on Buckeye Road near Tank Farm Road at the Buckeye Pipeline tank complex near 4993 Buckeye Road.
At 2:05 a.m., a transmission from Vera Cruz Fire Chief Joseph Sherman said the extrication of a patient was complete. The Lehigh County Coroner's Office already had been called to the scene.
Earlier, a Macungie ambulance was summoned to transport Wise to a nearby hospital to be checked out for injuries.
Initially, responding fire units from Vera Cruz and Emmaus fire and ambulance found gushing diesel fuel, reportedly at 100 gallons per minute, when they arrived. Although the tanker reportedly was full at 7,600 gallons, it was later reported that perhaps only one 2,500-gallon section of the tank was ruptured and spewing fuel.
Additional fire units were called to block roads. A sand truck and decontamination unit were called to the scene, according to transmissions.
The state Department of Environmental Protection was called to the scene as potential migration of diesel fuel from the site to a nearby stream became a concern. The Hazardous Materials Unit from Lehigh County also was called to the scene.
Sherman, as command officer, notified dispatchers that nearby roads would be closed for several hours. The East Penn School District was notified that bus routes would have to be notified as a result.
State police said Heller was not wearing a seat belt but his airbag deployed. The tractor trailer driver was wearing his seat belt.