Trucker's boss doubts driver who crashed on I-15 was on drugs

Published March 18, 2010 11:18 am

No proof yet » Veteran driver 'not anyone I would have ever suspected of ... this'
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Stan Hartmark, co-owner of Golden Eagle Petroleum Refinery, has doubts one of his most-trusted drivers was on drugs when his semi tractor trailer rig rolled and spilled thousands of gallons of diesel on Interstate 15 Wednesday.

Hartmark said the man behind the wheel of the totaled rig was Shane M. Oliver, "a grandfather, good guy and a good driver."

"We were told he left [Ogden's McKay-Dee] hospital last night and we've been trying to get hold of him. My main concern is how he's doing. I'm not jumping to any conclusions here . . . there are three or four guys who drive that truck, and we're [drug] testing them all today," Hartmark said.

Troopers found a methamphetamine pipe in the wreckage, and the Utah Highway Patrol on Thursday said they are asking prosecutors to pursue charges of driving while under the influence, possession of drug paraphernalia, and illegal lane travel against the driver. UHP Sgt. Jeff Nigbur would not confirm the identity of the driver, identifying him only as a 55-year-old man from South Weber.

Nigbur said troopers are awaiting toxicology test results from blood drawn from Oliver Wednesday.

Hartmark said the pipe could have been stuck behind a seat or elsewhere in the truck from a previous owner.

Oliver "is not anyone I would have ever suspected of anything like this," Hartmark added, saying that until evidence proves otherwise he is inclined to believe his driver's initial claim that he feel asleep behind the wheel at the end of a long shift.

Attempts to reach Oliver, whose residential phone is unlisted, were unsuccessful Thursday.

Oliver's truck crashed into the median just north of the Davis-Weber County line, rolling and spilling an estimated 3,400 gallons of diesel fuel -- about half of its total load, being hauled in two tanker trailers. The rig initially caught fire, but the flames were quickly extinguished by firefighters and no explosion occurred.

Oliver reportedly suffered shoulder injuries. He was treated in McKay-Dee's emergency room but was not admitted and left the hospital late Wednesday.

The interstate was closed beginning 5 a.m. Wednesday while North Salt Lake-based Enviro Care Inc. crews cleaned up and removed thousands of gallons of diesel fuel. Southbound lanes reopened about 10:30 a.m., but northbound lanes suffered more damage. The lanes had to have new asphalt applied and were closed until about 5 p.m.

Throughout the day, traffic was being rerouted onto secondary and frontage roads, resulting in a backup of up to three miles and commuter delays of half an hour or more.

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Environmental Impact

Brent Everett, director of the Utah Division of Environmental Response and Remediation, said his office had fielded an incident report on the spill -- but water contamination was not a concern at this time.

Environmental health specialists for the Weber-Morgan Health Department monitored Wednesday's cleanup, and expect to sample remaining soil in the near future to determine if more removal work is needed.

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