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Highway reopens following tanker rollover

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WASATCH COUNTY -- One of Utah's primary east-west highways is back open again after a shutdown that dragged on most of the day Thursday. The cause: a big tanker truck drifted off U.S. Highway 40, fully loaded with propane.

The big headache for recovery crews has been how to drag the truck back up the steep embankment that it tumbled down.

That 120,000 pound truckload of propane almost wound up in Strawberry Reservoir. It stopped just a few dozen yards short of the frozen lake, which is one of Utah's most popular fishing holes.

According to the Utah Department of Transportation, the truck driver became disoriented early Thursday morning because of a whiteout.

"From what we know of the incident, it was wind and weather from this morning's storm that caused him to lose control of the vehicle and overturn," explained UDOT spokesman Scott Thompson.

The accident shut down the highway between Heber and Duchesne. The only realistic detour in the wintertime is a long way around: 130 miles through Provo and Soldier Summit.

Amazingly, the truck driver walked away with no injuries. He was issued a citation for improper lane travel.

Authorities say they were forced to shut down the highway because of concerns about the explosive load of propane, but the tanks never leaked.

On the west side the accident, the Highway Patrol set up roadblocks at Daniel's Summit and near Heber City. About 2:30 p.m., crews got the truck up the hill and reopened the highway.

All in all, it was not a great day for driving into or out of the Uintah Basin.



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John Hollenhorst


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