INDIANAPOLIS (May 16, 2014) – A sneeze backed up traffic on the northeast side of Indianapolis Friday.
According to the Indianapolis Fire Department, a semi truck crashed before 1 p.m. Friday after the driver–52-year-old William Hosier–said he took his eyes off the road when he sneezed and reached for a tissue. His truck veered into the interstate’s retaining wall, splitting the fuel tank open. Fuel caught fire as the truck careened out of control; the cab hit an abutment and also burst into flames with Hosier and his passenger, 58-year-old Cynthia Hosier–inside.
Jason Tibbetts and Katie Warrick–two on-duty EMTs–witnessed the crash, IFD said. They broke the driver’s side window, unlocked the door and pulled William Hosier to safety. They then helped Cynthia Hosier–described by IFD as the man’s ex-wife–out of the cab as well. She had been in the sleeping compartment, and was taken to IU Health Methodist Hospital in good condition. Both complained of pain, according to Indiana State Police.
The resulting fire sent plumes of smoke into the sky and forced emergency responders to shut down all lanes of I-465 southbound near East 56th Street and North Shadeland Avenue. IFD crews had the fire under control in about 15 minutes, and Indiana State Police began redirecting traffic, which came to a standstill before it began trickling through again.
About 200 gallons of diesel fuel and oil spilled from the truck’s tanks into interstate drains and Fall Creek below. Firefighters used absorbent booms and pillows to limit the spread. A spill recovery team later arrived, using dozens of 50-pound bags of kitty litter to contain the spill.
Hosier’s truck was carrying Nissan car parts for Carter Express out of Anderson, Ind. IFD said the company assumed liability for the spill recovery and cleanup costs.
Traffic in the area was still slow as of 4 p.m.