The Richmond Register

Local News

June 22, 2007

Fatal accident closes I-75

BEREA — A Tennessee man was killed early Friday morning in a head-on collision on Interstate 75 near Berea, shutting down the three southbound lanes for more than 18 hours because of a sulfur liquid spill.

After the left front tire of a northbound tanker truck carrying the sulfur mix blew out around 2:50 a.m., the driver lost control and struck the concrete barrier separating the northbound and southbound lanes just south of Exit 76.

The impact caused the tanker to go airborne and cross over into the southbound lanes, slamming head-on into a double UPS tractor trailer driven by Johnny L. Dopp, 35, of Jacksboro, Tenn., who was pronounced dead at the scene. An autopsy was conducted Friday in Frankfort, where it was determined that he died from multiple injuries. Dopp’s family was notified just before 8 a.m., according to Berea Police Department Capt. Ken Clark.

The tanker was filled with about 4,000 gallons of liquid containing 70 percent sulfur and 30 percent of a water-based farm application product, said Carl Richards, director of Madison County’s Emergency Management Agency, which cleaned up the spill.

The tanker portion of the truck was ripped apart by the concrete barrier before skidding about 200 feet along the southbound lanes and striking the UPS tractor trailer. The driver of the tanker, Arthur L. Mays, 54, of Blakely, Ga., was not injured.

“There was almost nothing left in the tanker,” Richards said. “It leaked almost all of its contents. Only a negligible amount was left.” Officials removed the cab of the UPS truck about 7 a.m.

“The back trailer was completely empty,” Richards said. “There was only cargo in the front part of the truck.”

No other vehicles were involved with the crash, Clark said, but there were several smaller accidents among the backed-up southbound traffic trying to get off the interstate at Berea’s Exit 76 and 77 while workers were busy cleaning up the sulfur mix. The cleanup began about 8 a.m.

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