November 29, 2001

Driver Escapes Serious Injury After Pepsi Truck Was Forced Off Bridge

A Memphis man escaped serious injury after the tractor-trailer he was driving went off a bridge in a three-vehicle accident that occurred at approximately 4:00 p.m. November 23 in Scotland County.

Ken Hull, 30, suffered moderate injuries when the 1995 GMC semi tractor trailer he was driving southbound on Highway 15 smashed through the barrier on the northbound traffic lane of the bridge over the South Wyaconda and plunged downward approximately 30 feet before smashing into the south creek bank.

According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the accident occurred when the Pepsi truck driven by Hull struck a towed object that crossed the center line in front of his vehicle.

A hay rake was being towed by a 1999 Ford F350 truck driven by Dean R. Fox, 16, of Memphis, in the northbound lane. The implement apparently struck the east bridge railing and then bounced west across the centerline into the path of the Hull's Pepsi truck.

The Pepsi truck struck the rake and the impact caused the truck to swerve into the northbound lane where it crashed through the bridge railing. The truck became airborne and slid along the top of the concrete barrier for several feet before leaving the roadway and plunging into the creek bed.

Emergency service workers indicated the latter likely prevented the accident from being much worse, as the truck stayed in an upright position as it went off the bridge. Workers speculated that if the truck had not rode the bridge barrier as it had, it likely would have plunged directly down into the channel, meaning the truck's trailer likely would have smashed the cab.

The Scotland County Fire and Rescue Squad used the Jaws-of-Life extrication tool to remove the cab's top to allow Hull to be removed from the wreckage. The process was made a bit more difficult as the emergency service workers were dealing with the possibility of the truck overturning down into the creek bed as it rested in an unbalanced state. At one point the trailer began to shift, but the personnel were able to remove Hull from the vehicle.

Hull was taken by Scotland County Ambulance to Scotland County Memorial Hospital where he was treated for head and facial lacerations and kept overnight for observation.

The hay rake was destroyed in the accident but the truck was unharmed and Fox was not injured. A 1997 Dodge Caravan driven by J. P. Struble, 60, of Memphis was northbound behind the hay rake at the time of the accident. The vehicle was struck by flying debris from the Pepsi truck's impact with the bridge. Struble was not injured.

The Highway Patrol indicated arrests are pending in the investigation. The Patrol was assisted at the scene by the ambulance service, fire and rescue squad, the Scotland County Sheriff's Department and the Missouri Department of Transportation.

MoDOT workers secured the bridge area and reopened the traffic lane approximately one hour after the crash.

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