Two recent big rig accidents in Hempstead and Nevada counties created traffic mayhem for motorists on Interstate 30.
An accident which occurred Saturday about 2:30 p. m. at I-30 and Hazel Street in Hope sent a Michigan man to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Hospital in Little Rock by helicopter.
Kevin Nelson, 53, of Hudsonville, Mich. was driving westbound on I-30, when his tractor-trailer began drifting into the median on the interstate, according to eyewitness accounts of the accident.
“He drove 2,700 feet in the median, before landing on Hazel Street,” Arkansas State Police Trooper Darrin Henley said. “There was a slight merge, but there was no evidence of him hitting his brakes.”
Nelson was driving for ALTL, Inc., of Hudsonville, Mich. at the time of the accident. According to the ASP accident report, the truck went down the east side embankment from I-30 and halfway up the west side embankment on Hazel Street.
EMTs and Hope Fire Department personnel pulled in above the accident in the median, and picked Nelson up out of the cab and transferred him to a waiting pickup, according to the accident report. The pickup then traveled to the I-30 exit to a waiting ambulance.
Pafford Emergency Medical Services transported Nelson to a cul-de-sac on Commerce Street, where a LifeNet helicopter was in position to transfer him to UAMS in Little Rock, according to Henley.
Red River Wrecker was on scene and picked the cab of the truck up and delivered it to a flat bed near Kentucky Fried Chicken on Hazel Street. The trailer was moved by dollies and supports.
No one else was injured in the accident and Henley said that Nelson was in stable condition at UAMS at press time.
The trooper and other emergency personnel were on the scene until about 8 p. m. Saturday, according to Henley.
A tractor-trailer driver lost control of his vehicle Monday when leaving Nevada County heading eastbound on Interstate 30, creating an accident scene that snarled traffic for about an hour, according to the Arkansas State Police.
The cab and trailer were destroyed by a fire which occurred after the impact.
According to State Trooper Bryan Christenson, eye witnesses reported that the driver, Jose Valadez, 54, of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico, was “all over the road” shortly before the incident about 2:30 p.m. Monday.
Valdez reportedly drove off the right side of the road and hit the guard-rail leading to the bridge at the 53 mile-marker near the Okolona/Gurdon exit, according to Christenson. The truck and trailer flipped after hitting the concrete bridge barrier, and caught fire shortly after, according to Christenson. Valadez, the only occupant in the vehicle, was charged with careless and prohibited driving.
He did not sustain any injuries and was taken into custody. According to Christenson, the truck contained auto parts, which burned for about 20 minutes until firefighters were able to put it out. Traffic was halted for about an hour until one lane was cleared.