As many as 6 separate accidents occur as heavy rains move through the area. No injuries but one driver caught in traffic backup suffers medical emergency.
For a while Monday afternoon, I-45 more resembled a demolition derby than a freeway, after the first of at least 6 different collisions brought traffic to a halt for most of the afternoon. The first accident occurred around 1 pm, as rain began to fall, and although by all accounts it was a minor incident, drivers traveling too fast for the conditions led to a number of secondary accidents, with the most serious almost claiming the life of a truck driver.
A driver of an 18 wheeler hauling tires could not stop in time and the cab of his truck was nearly sliced in two when he struck the rear of an 18 wheeler car hauler. The rear deck of the car hauler came into the cab near the center of the windshield missing the driver by only a foot or two. While there were no persons transported as a result of injuries from any of the accidents, one driver did suffer a medical emergency while stuck in traffic. New Waverly Firefighter/EMTs already on scene were quickly re-directed to assist the driver along with an ambulance from Walker County EMS.
After the rains moved out, Troopers and Tow Operators went to work on the massive task of clearing the accident scenes, while New Waverly Firefighters tackled a hazardous materials spill from a ruptured fuel tank on one of the 18 wheelers involved. Firefighters were able to stop the leak and then used approximately 200 gallons of a specialized foam solution containing microbes to clean up the fuel spilled on the highway.
While the freeway re-opened to traffic before 5pm, most of the damage was already done as the gridlock stretched for miles, reaching all the way back into the city of Huntsville.
These accidents, while they occurred within the construction zone, did not take place in the narrow area between the rails that is most often blamed, and for the most part appeared to be related to weather conditions and speed. While the speed limit has been lowered to 65 mph throughout the construction areas, drivers are reminded that those are maximum allowable speeds, and drivers should reduce speed to match road and weather conditions, regardless of the posted speed limit.