“He was inside the Perimeter when he should have been on the Perimeter. He was cutting through,” Captain Mark Wesley, the head of the state Department of Public Safety Motor Carrier Compliance division, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Monday.
The Downtown Connector was closed in both directions after about 50 gallons of diesel fuel and up to 250 gallons of a toxic chemical spilled on the interstate.
Wesley said Monday he did not know the driver’s planned destination.
Messages left with the Savannah company that owns the truck, Dickey Truck Leasing, which does business as Greatwide American Trans-Freight, have not been returned. Attempts to reach Bowden also haven’t been successful.
DeBrunye said in an email that his agency will support the local and state investigation into the incident. The FMCSA is a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The agency’s role, he said, “will be a thorough review of the carrier’s compliance with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. This includes an examination of the carrier operations, the vehicle and the driver compliance with the (federal regulations).”
“The results of this thorough review will be provided to the state/local authorities to help provide as full a picture as possible of all the elements that may — or may not — be factors in the crash,” he said in an email.
A federal agency said Tuesday it will help state and local agencies investigate a chemical spill caused by a tractor-trailer wreck before dawn Monday on the Downtown Connector that snarled traffic for hours. JOHN SPINK /JSPINK@AJC.COM
Credit: John Spink
Credit: John Spink
The crash and spill was part of a pair of incidents Monday that made a mess of Atlanta's highways. Buckling lanes on I-20 in DeKalb County shut down westbound traffic for hours during the evening commute. Georgia Department of Transportation crews fully opened westbound lanes of I-20 early Tuesday.
The crash between Bowden’s truck and an SUV occurred about 3 a.m. Monday. Bowden attempted to avoid the SUV, which was stopped on the Downtown Connector and then turned into the truck’s path.
The collision caused the semi to overturn and its load of chemicals to spill.
Atlanta authorities said about 250 gallons of benzyol chloride spilled on the freeway.
The crash led to the shutdown of I-75/I-85 in the middle of the city for hours as crews cleaned up the noxious smelling liquid.
Police found the driver of the SUV, Mitchell Epstein, of Memphis, bleeding and disoriented, walking south in the northbound lanes of the Connector. The police report said Epstein was ticketed for having an expired and suspended license. He was also cited for improper stopping in a roadway and an improper lane change.