According to Tony Dunn, spokesman for the Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol’s Troop D, witnesses told officers that the 18-wheeler veered off the road and overturned into a highly-vegetated area, just north of the Vaiden exit. The driver, a man Dunn identified as 61-year-old Robert Livington, Jr. of Memphis, was traveling north on I-55 when he lost control of the tanker.
Livingston was driving the tanker carrying methyl methacrylate, and according to Dunn, Livingston said he blacked out.
The accident occurred on the morning of May 6 near the 174 mile marker on Interstate 55.
Livingston received only minor injuries, but the accident drew in several state and local emergency officials to the area. Responding to the scene was the Mississippi Highway Patrol, agents with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and the Carroll County Sheriff’s Department all responded to the scene, but it was the Carroll County fire volunteers that Dunn said are the real heroes. Fire departments from Vaiden, Mt. Pisgah, and Carrollton-North Carrollton all responded to the scene, where the tanker eventually caught fire, but extinguished it before the surrounding area caught fire or was contaminated by the chemical contained in the tanker.
According to Dunn, methyl methacrylate, if hot enough, would have likely caused the tanker to explode and cause further problems and evacuation to the Vaiden area, presumably the businesses along Highway 35 and the Carroll-Montgomery Regional Correctional Facility.
“If it [methyl methacrylate] would’ve gotten hot enough, the liquid would expand and form into something like BB’s,” Dunn said. “It would’ve gotten so hot it would’ve caused that tanker to explode. The volunteer firemen know their stuff, and the truck was on fire. They put it out before any further damage was done.”
Dunn said it was fortunate that emergency responders handled the tanker, but the work of the volunteers should not go unnoticed.
“They don’t get paid, and they’re risking their necks to protect the people of the county,” Dunn said. “We tip our hats to them.”