It took two large wreckers to raise the tractor out of Angel Slough Thursday morning after a semi-truck driver hit the bridge on Ord Ferry Road and went over the rail. (Steve Schoonover — Enterprise-Record) A semi-truck driver on a run from Oakland to Chico drove into a slough Thursday, and he put some of the blame on GPS.
Ord Ferry Road in Butte County was closed for about eight hours to pull the truck out of Angel Slough after the 4:45 a.m. accident.
The driver, who declined to give his name, said he had done the run before, and his GPS system usually sends him up Highway 99. On Thursday morning it sent him along a number of rural back roads, a route he’d never taken before.
“It was so dark, and I was thinking, ‘Where am I?’” he said. “I looked down at the GPS and then the right tire exploded.”
California Highway Patrol officer Kurt Powell said when the driver looked down at his phone, the truck drifted to the right and hit the bridge curb. The tire burst, and the truck ran down the bridge rail for a while before tipping over the edge.
The driver was not injured. He said his seatbelt held him tight, and it wasn’t until he released it and dropped that he realized exactly what had happened.
“It was all so fast,” he said.
The bridge is about 20 feet wide and quite long, crossing two waterways. The roadway is just a few feet above the water.
Powell said an engineer had to be brought in to examine the structure of the bridge — built in 1949 — to make sure it was strong enough to hold the weight of the truck plus the two heavy wreckers needed to pull the wreckage out of the slough.
The front part of the truck, the tractor, was pulled up around 10 a.m. and the trailer, with an empty freight container, about 90 minutes later.
Powell said about 75 gallons of diesel fuel spilled from a broken tank. Absorbent was put on the spill and Butte County Environmental Health was on hand to monitor the situation.
Powell said that the Chico manufacturing company gets two empty freight containers each morning, and the trucks that bring them then take two loaded ones back the port of Oakland.
Just one of the trucks turned up Thursday morning, prompting the business to call the CHP. The driver had gone into the slough about 10 miles from his destination.