Milk tanker has big spill on Highway 99 in central Modesto

08/22/2012 11:35 AM

08/22/2012 10:49 PM

A tanker truck overturned Wednesday morning on Highway 99 in downtown Modesto, spilling about 6,100 gallons of milk and slowing northbound traffic for close to three hours, the California Highway Patrol reported.

The driver, a 50-year-old Southern California man, was treated at a Modesto hospital for "mild to moderate" injuries, Sgt. John Martinez said. His name was not available.

The milk spread across a short stretch of freeway near the crash scene, on the northbound side of 99 between the H and I street overpasses.

The California Department of Transportation determined that the milk was not a hazardous substance, Martinez said. It drained off both sides of the pavement, he said.

The accident happened just after 11 a.m. Martinez said the driver swerved to avoid a slowing vehicle in front of him in the right lane; the tanker went up a bank and turned onto its side.

Motorists at the scene helped the driver get out of the cab, Martinez said. The cab lay with the driver's side door on the shoulder, while the tank it was pulling sat in the right lane.

"It could have been a lot worse considering the size of the vehicle involved," Martinez said.

The driver was wearing a seat belt, he said.

Northbound traffic slowed as officers guided vehicles onto the left shoulder and past the wreckage. It also slowed in the southbound direction as curious drivers tried to see what had happened, Martinez said.

The name of the trucking company and the destination of the milk could not be confirmed Wednesday.

Milk tankers make numerous trips each day between dairy farms and processing plants in the Northern San Joaquin Valley.

Bee staff writer John Holland can be reached at jholland@modbee.com or (209) 578-2385.

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