Wreck road closed

Emergency vehicles line the southbound lane of U.S. 641 South Wednesday morning near Hazel where a semi truck loaded with explosives crashed. The highway was blocked from Midway to the Tennessee state line at Hazel, but that did not prevent at least one motorist from driving through manned barricades along the road.

HAZEL — Calloway County Fire-Rescue Chief Tommy Morgan said an incident that occurred Wednesday during the lengthy closure of a main road in the county due to a major truck crash should serve as a reminder to motorists to use caution in such situations.

Morgan said a motorist drove through three areas where CCFR volunteers were stationed to direct traffic around U.S. 641 South between Midway and Hazel as crews removed a semi truck carrying mining explosives that had crashed about two miles north of Hazel near Jobe Lane. 

He said the third time happened in front of him.

“I slapped the (driver’s) truck after I saw it happen, to get him to stop,” said Morgan of the incident in which he said three of his volunteers were blocking traffic and were nearly struck by the truck. 

“Look, I know people are upset about not being able to get to where they want to go and having to go around, but that’s no excuse to just run through where our guys are set up. All (volunteers are) trying to do is their job to keep people safe. I had three guys with their backs turned when that truck came through. They weren’t supposed to be expecting anybody coming toward them like that, because the road was supposed to be closed to everyone and there were two other barricades set up that (the driver) had to go through before he reached them.”

Morgan said the incident also was witnessed by Calloway County Sheriff Sam Steger, who had joined Morgan and numerous other Calloway emergency officials in supervising the scene, and he “had some words with the man.” Morgan said that to his knowledge, no charges were filed. 

Steger could not be reached for comment about the incident on Thursday. 

Morgan, meanwhile, was not holding back with his opinion on the situation.

“If it takes putting my fist through someone’s window to get them to stop, I’ll do it. No one is going through our road blocks like that,” he said, asking the public to try and understand how he and his personnel feel about the situation as well. 

“Look, it’s never fun for the road to be closed, and I understand that people are upset about not being able to get to where they’re wanting to go. But we’re out there too and there are a lot of things we’d rather be doing than directing traffic. That’s our job and we’re going to do it.”

Calloway County Attorney Bryan Ernstberger there are penalties that could be enforced for such matters. 

“If one is in violation like this, it could be treated as something similar to speeding and you get a ticket. It also could become something where if the officer decides it’s especially egregious, that it is determined to be a felony, and you could be talking as many as one to five years in jail,” Ernstberger said. “I’d say it was good thing for this person that everyone was so concerned with what was going to happen to that truck. He might’ve been arrested on another day.”

At the time, emergency personnel were overseeing operations to deal with a load consisting of more than 34,000 pounds of explosives that were inside a trailer that was leaning against a three-phase utility pole with three accompanying transformers. Morgan said arcs were witnessed from the pole following the wreck that was reported at 5:40 a.m. Wednesday. 

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