Rig falls off overpass, onto road below

September 7, 2010 3:37:22 AM PDT
Authorities shut down a portion of the Southwest Freeway for hours after an 18-wheeler rolled off an overpass and fell onto the freeway below. It happened on Monday afternoon near the Highway 288 and U.S. 59 interchange. Around 2pm, the 18 wheeler was traveling into downtown on Highway 59 on the Chenevert exit when the driver lost control, drove through the guardrail and fell on the northbound lanes of Highway 59 below.

The Dr. Pepper truck landed upside down and then caught on fire. The estimate drop is about 50 feet.

The truck driver was taken to an area hospital with severe burns to his back and legs. He possibly also suffered a broken leg.

"The fall from that height was very devastating and with the truck also being on fire, he was very lucky to be alive at this point," Houston Fire Department Assistant Chief Kevin Alexander said.

The truck didn't fall on any moving vehicles but three did crash into it; a man in one went to the hospital with minor injuries.

"We passed right down there," said Ernesto Velazquez, who barely missed the falling truck as he was driving. "As soon as we passed, it fell, then it blew up."

Officials spent hours trying to remove the 18 wheeler and check the integrity of the overpass and the guardrail because of the damage caused to them. Officials with the transportation department made a temporary fix to the guardrail.

There also was another accident reported an hour earlier at Highway 288 and the South Loop. The rig crashed onto its side. However, all main lanes of Highway 288 and the South Loop remained open, though the ramps in the area were closed for hours while they worked to get that rig out of the way.

All lanes were reopened Tuesday morning just before rush hour.

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