Driver dies after 18-wheeler plummets 150 feet from Ship Channel bridge

HOUSTON – The driver of an 18-wheeler that fell 150 feet from the Ship Channel bridge Wednesday died as rescuers were working to free him from the truck’s cab, police said.

The crash was reported about 8:20 a.m. on the northbound side of the Interstate 610 East Loop just before Buffalo Bayou.

Houston police said a witness reported that a smaller vehicle cut the tractor-trailer off and the truck driver veered to avoid a crash. The truck crashed through the guardrail and landed upside down on a portion the Huntsman International plant on the south banks of the bayou.

The driver of the smaller vehicle stayed at the scene and is being interviewed by investigators, police said.

PHOTOS: Tractor-trailer falls off East Loop bridge

Authorities said the truck was hauling sauce, and that no toxic chemicals have been released as a result of the crash.

Police said the Texas Department of Transportation is evaluating the condition of the bridge, and will likely be working in the area for the next few days.

Several lanes of the freeway were closed, and drivers were asked to avoid the area.

The identity of the driver who died was not immediately released.

Huntsman released a statement about the crash:

As a result of this morning’s tragic, random traffic accident, all operations at Huntsman’s plant at 101 Concrete Street, on the Houston Ship Channel, have been shut down.  We can confirm that all Huntsman employees are uninjured and accounted for.  The plant produces polyols that are a key ingredient in the manufacture of polyurethane insulation.  The truck severed the plant’s city wastewater line, and because the sewage lift station has been shut down, along with all plant operations, it is likely that some sewage made its way into the Ship Channel through the stormwater drain. Also, because oil from the truck did run onto our property, we have deployed boom to prevent oil from going into the Ship Channel.  We continue to monitor.  EMS and other authorities are on site and managing the scene.  We extend our heartfelt condolences to the family of the driver of the truck.

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