No injuries were reported, but part of Highway 95 was temporarily shut down Sunday night after a coal trailer separated from a southbound truck and overturned in a ditch between Bethel Valley Road and Melton Hill Dam.
The accident was reported at about 6:15 p.m. Sunday. The highway remained shut down more than two hours later.
The truck itself did not overturn, although its back end appeared damaged. It appeared that part of the trailer had sheared off and coal had spilled in the ditch.
The Oak Ridge police and fire departments both responded, and there were reports that the Tennessee Highway Patrol could as well.
An Oak Ridge Police Department crash report said the truck was driven by Henry Whitis, 58, of London, Ky. He was cited for failing to exercise due caution and failing to maintain his lane, according to the report.
The purple 2009 Peterbilt 379 tractor-trailer is owned by Aaron Massey Trucking LLC of London, Ky., and it was about a quarter-mile south of Bethel Valley Road when the coal in the trailer shifted, the ORPD report said. The trailer broke away and overturned on its left side as the truck was going uphill and around a right-hand curve on the two-lane road.
Whitis reported that the vehicle weighed 88,000 pounds, and he had been instructed by his employer to avoid interstate highways and travel side roads instead, according to the report by ORPD Officer Matthew Johnston.
It’s the second time in a little more than a year that a coal truck or its trailer have overturned on State Route 95 near the west entrance to Oak Ridge National Laboratory. In September 2012, a coal truck overturned on Highway 95 north of Bethel Valley Road. The truck ended up on its side and spilled coal in a ditch.
Since then, there have been other crashes on the hilly, curvy road, including two fatal collisions. In October 2013, an Oak Ridge woman was taken to the hospital after the minivan she was driving hit the ditch on State Route 95 and rolled over. That accident occurred near Melton Hill Dam.
In November 2012, a Greenback man died after his compact utility vehicle went off the roadway and into the ditch on Highway 95 near Bethel Valley Road, overturned, and hit a tree.
In September 2013, a Clinton man was killed in a fiery three-vehicle crash when the motorcycle he was riding collided with a vehicle driven by a Louisville woman. That accident was reported about one-half mile south of Bethel Valley Road, west of ORNL and near the site of Sunday’s wreck.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
Note: This story was last updated at 1:27 p.m. Dec. 2.