By Ethan Colbert
BOWLING GREEN TIMES
A two-vehicle crash near Eolia on Sept. 30 closed both the northbound and southbound lanes of Highway 61 for several hours.
According to Eolia Fire Protection District’s Public Information Officer Reid LaFave, the northbound lanes of Highway 61 re-opened early Sunday evening. The southbound lanes remain closed as of press time.
LaFave said that emergency responders with the Eolia Fire Protection District had hoped to have both lanes of highway opened by 6:30 p.m.
Motorists heading southbound are being diverted at Bowling Green, where they are taking a detour of Highway 54 to Louisiana and then south on Highway 79.
LaFave said he was unsure if the Missouri Department of Transportation had posted signs guiding motorists through the detour.
According to MoDOT, nearly 13,000 motorists drive this portion of Highway 61 on a daily basis.
The crash occurred after a motorist, Delbert W. Blackard, of Florissant, attempted to move from the left lane to the right lane in the southbound lanes of Highway 61. In the process of changing lanes, Blackard’s 2009 Dodge Journey struck the front left of portion a 2016 Peterbilt Conventional semi-truck driven by Jeffery L. Bruce, 56, of Roxana, Illinois.
According to LaFave, Bruce’s semi-truck had been caryring a load of 8,000-gallons of ethanol.
After the collision, the semi-truck continued to travel down the right side of the roadway before overturning at the Hwy. OO and Hwy. 61 interchange, which is approximately two miles north of Eolia.
According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the crash occurred at 11:55 a.m. on Sunday, September 30.
Both motorists were wearing their seatbelts at the time of the collision.
Bruce was taken by helicopter to Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis for treatment of his injuries. His injuries are described as being serious.
Blackard was not injured in the crash, according to the highway patrol.
In addition to providing medical assistance, emergency responders also dealt with fluids leaking from the semi-truck.
Responding to the crash site were members of the Tri-County Hazardous Materials Team and the Hannibal Hazard Materials team, according to LaFave. Also at the scene were members of the Pike County Memorial Hospital Ambulance crews, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Pike County Sheriff’s Department, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, and multiple fire departments.
LaFave described this type of response as “standard procedure” to a hazardous material-involved vehicle crash.