Rescue workers from Central Emergency Services work to extricate the driver of a cement truck that rolled over at the intersection of the Sterling Highway, Funny River Road and Kalifornsky Beach Road on Thursday morning.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
A Soldotna concrete mixing tuck company lost one of its 12 mixing trucks Thursday after it rolled into a ditch alongside the intersection of Kalifornsky Beach Road and the Sterling Highway.
Central Emergency Services received a call reporting the accident at 8:06 a.m. and found the truck in the ditch in the northeast corner of the intersection with the driver still inside.
The accident was reported by CES Lt. Keith Hamilton, who happened to be driving behind the concrete truck when the accident happened.
“I saw the rear tires lift off the road and realized it was going to roll,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like that in my life ... . It didn’t flip or anything, it just rolled (and) there was just a loud thud.”
Hamilton called CES from a radio in his vehicle and within two minutes CES was on the scene.
“The dust hadn’t even settled and the department was already responding,” Hamilton said.
Before CES arrived, Hamilton reached into the window of the concrete truck’s cab to cut the driver free of his seat belt, which was constricting his breathing, assessed him for injuries, then secured his spine as a precaution.
When CES arrived, they used extrication equipment to cut the pillars of the cab, peel away the roof and carefully remove the driver, who was identified by Soldotna police as Bruce McGrady, 52, of Kenai.
According to Terry Best, owner of Best Transit Mix. Inc. and the truck involved in the accident, McGrady did not suffer any injuries other than seat belt bruises.
In an interview after the accident, McGrady said he thought the centrifugal force of the truck’s contents had contributed to the accident as he turned left from K-Beach Road onto the Sterling Highway toward Soldotna, according to Johnny Whitehead, a Soldotna police officer.
Whitehead said investigation had not yet determined whether speed was a factor in the accident and that the vehicle was being examined for possible mechanical failures.
Best said the driver may have been driving a mile or two faster than he should have been, but that a downward slope in the road from the center of the intersection to the section of the Sterling Highway on which the truck rolled was likely a bigger contributing factor.
Because concrete trucks are top-heavy, their balance is easily disrupted, particularly while making a turn, he said.
“It only takes a second in a big commercial vehicle for things to get out of control,” he said.
Best said the rolled concrete truck could hold up to nine cubic yards of concrete, weighing up to 35,000 pounds. The truck is unsalvageable and could cost anywhere from $130,000 to $150,000 to replace, he said.
Hamilton said he was not at liberty to say whether he thought the truck was traveling faster than it should of been, but said he did not observe anything out of the ordinary.
After the accident, the truck and the mixer holding a load of concrete were separated and Wilder Construction Co., which is working on the Sterling Highway bridge, responded with a crane to assist in removal and cleanup.
“Wilder Construction deserves big kudos for their support,” said Hamilton. “They came running to help and they were very, very helpful. They were phenomenal.”
In addition to helping with removal, Wilder Construction employees who were near the scene of the accident when it occurred also helped with handling the driver redirecting traffic, Hamilton said.
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