North Loop 461 under the I-27 overpass in New Deal remained closed to traffic Tuesday due to hazmat crews clearing dangerous chemicals off the roadway. Monday, a Battery Solutions semi-truck drove off an overpass, spilling fuel and battery acid. According to New Deal Fire Chief Randy Teeter, the cleanup was a nightmare for first responders.
"A lot of our personal protective equipment was contaminated with acid," said Teeter. "Most of it was during the extraction process and containing the site, everything from the acid, diesel and oil."
An accident of this magnitude brings several questions to mind: Who was the driver? What was the cause of the accident? Was alcohol or sleep-deprivation involved? What is the driver liable for and is the trucking company responsible to compensate the city for damages?
So far, officials have identified the driver as 25-year-old Roy Gonzales II. Following Tuesday's accident, Aerocare transported Gonzales to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries and held him overnight for observation. James Williams, the New Deal Police Chief says they are still investigating the exact cause of the accident but he believes drowsy driving may have been a factor.
As of now, police have not been able to clarify what Gonzales or the trucking company will be held liable for but Teeter and the New Deal Volunteer Fire Department will need to come up with several thousands of dollars for equipment damages.
According to Teeter, chemicals contaminated approximately $8,000 of fire equipment, in addition to some of the responders' personal items. All of the equipment that was affected has been taken out of active service until it can either be repaired or inspected and deemed safe for use. Time will tell how much damage was fully sustained in the aftermath of the accident.
TxDOT representatives say they will not be able to assess the cost to roadways until all damage has been repaired.
The eastbound lanes of Loop 461 will reopen to traffic Wednesday morning but due to severe roadway damage, westbound lanes are expected to remain closed for the next 2-3 weeks. Traffic will be detoured around the area until the road reopens.
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