By MELISSA MILLECAM
San Marcos wrecker crews pulled an 18-wheeler from the San Marcos River about 11:45 a.m. Thursday, April 10, about nine hours after the vehicle crashed through the guardrails on northbound I-35 and plunged into the environmentally sensitive river.
The wreck occurred around 2:23 a.m. as driver Kevin Joseph Tuttle (DOB 1/15/1967) of Lake Wales, Fla. was driving north on I-35. Police have not established what caused the truck carrying computer components to go off the roadway.
Tuttle, a driver for Ybarra Trucking of Laredo, Texas, was able to climb out of the cab and was taken to Central Texas Medical Center in San Marcos for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.
The east access road between Highway 123 and Highway 80 was closed down until about 2 p.m. when the wreck was cleared from the area.
Eagle Environmental of San Antonio undertook the river clean up about 10 a.m. Orange and white booms will be left in the river until Monday to collect any residues of oil and diesel that might be in the river or along the banks from the wreck. No estimates are available of the amount of fuel or oil products that might have entered the river from the cab.
City officials asked canoeists to portage around the areas where the booms are located this weekend.
At 2:23 a.m. Thursday, April 10, Sgt. Wade Parham of the San Marcos Police Department observed extensive damage to the guardrail on I-35 north at the river.
Officers located a 1995 Kenworth tractor trailer rig belonging to Ybarra Trucking of Laredo wedged underneath the bridge of the east access road of I-35. The truck destroyed 160 feet of guardrail on northbound I-35 before plunging into the river.
The cab of the truck was submerged in the river, but the driver was able to escape without serious injury.
The San Marcos Police Department, San Marcos Fire Rescue, San Marcos/ Hays County EMS, Texas Department of Transportation, the City Parks & Recreation Department and the City Environmental Health Department responded to the scene to assist with the accident.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department also sent representatives at the scene. Crews from Saucedo Wrecker Service handled the removal of the trailer and cab from the river.
The San Marcos River is spring-fed from the Edwards Aquifer and supports eight threatened or endangered aquatic species. The location of the wreck is about a mile from the headwaters of the river.