Questions Raised Over Explosives Thrown Across Interstate in Morning Accident
January 4, 2013 at 11:25 PM CST - Updated July 25 at 9:46 PM
By Jen Kastner NewsWest 9
ODESSA- On Friday, a major accident on I-20 in Odessa left one truck in flames, sent three people to the hospital and caused a trailer full of explosives to be thrown all over the interstate. The explosives, called blasting caps, required the immediate attention of the Odessa bomb unit. Questions are now being raised as to whether or not those explosives were properly secured.
A blasting cap acts like a fuse to a firecracker. It's a small explosive used to set off a larger explosive, like a stick of dynamite.
At approximately 6:30 a.m., a Ford F-250 that was traveling westbound caught fire after getting pummeled by a Ford F-150 that was traveling east bound with a flatbed trailer latched onto it.
Sherrie Carruth, with the Odessa Police Department, said, "[The F150] ran across a patch of ice, lost control and went into the median and the vehicle flipped. [We're] not sure how many times it flipped."
When that F-150 rolled, so did its trailer, sending tubular rods and blasting caps all over the Interstate.
The three individuals involved in the collision were taken to Medical Center Hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The Odessa bomb unit successfully recovered all of the blasting caps. Nevertheless, some have asked if this accident could have taken an uglier turn had surrounding vehicles run over the explosives. In addition to that, had those blasting caps been initially secured properly in that trailer?
NewsWest 9 is still working on answers, but Carruth tells NewsWest 9, "[They] can be secured as [best as they] possibly can, but when you're in a situation where the vehicles starts rolling, especially trailers, there's nothing that guarantees [they'll] stay intact."
Odessa Police say they're ruling this incident an accident and no investigation will be opened. NewsWest 9 then turned to the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives for more answers. They tell NewsWest 9 that once explosives are in transit on public roads, the situation is out of their hands. We're told that from there on out, it's the U.S. Department of Transportation's responsibility.
The U.S. DOT's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration couldn't speak specifically to this case. At least, not yet. However, we were issued a statement which read, in part, "Human error continues to be the single greatest contributing factor in hazardous materials incidents. The driving public is encouraged to exercise caution when sharing the road with HAZMAT vehicles and others."