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Crash temporarily closes I-70 east in St. Clairsville in Belmont County

T-L Photos/CARRI GRAHAM ABOVE: A tow truck loads up the pickup truck involved in Friday morning’s wreck on Interstate 70 east while first responders block both lanes of traffic.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Interstate 70 east was closed for more than two hours Friday morning after a two-vehicle wreck caused a truck to spill around 200 gallons of weed killer onto the roadway.

Lt. Maurice Waddell, commander of the Ohio State Highway Patrol St. Clairsville Post, said the accident occurred around 8:50 a.m. when a pickup truck struck a dump truck while it was attempting to merge onto I-70 east from Ohio 9 in St. Clairsville. A dump truck driven by 41-year-old William Hutchinson of Barnesville came to a stop as he attempted to enter the highway and was struck from behind by a pickup truck driven by 27-year-old Thomas Flowers of Blaine. The crash caused the pickup truck to spill its load of weed killer onto the roadway.

Trooper Stanley Bittinger said three people including Hutchinson, his passenger and Flowers sustained minor injuries in the accident. Two of the individuals were transported to East Ohio Regional Hospital for evaluation and treatment, but Wddell said all injuries appeared to be minor.

Flowers was determined to be at fault and was cited for failure to maintain assured clear distance ahead.

The interstate reopened around 11:30 a.m. after the Ohio Department of Transportation helped clean the roadway. Waddell said the cleanup of the weed killer was the main reason for the long delay that rerouted traffic through the city on U.S. 40. He noted sand was used to soak up the potentially hazardous material and was then swept off the roadway. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency was contacted and assessed the residue Friday afternoon. That work resulted in a temporary one-lane closure of the roadway.

In addition to the OSHP and ODOT, Cumberland Trail Fire District, St. Clairsville Police Department and the Belmont County Emergency Management Agency were also on scene.

At the time of the accident, the Distracted Driving Safety Corridor signs posted along the interstate stated 122 days had passed since the last serious accident had occurred there. Waddell said he is unsure if the number of days will be changed to zero due to Friday’s crash.

He said the signs are typically only reset when an accident has occurred that results in severe injuries; however, because the wreck did leave the interstate closed for a couple hours, they may be changed. He said he will discuss the matter with ODOT prior to making a final decision.

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