One dead after vehicle collides with petroleum tanker truck

Emergency responders gather on the scene of the collision of a pickup truck and petroleum tanker truck that left one person dead Thursday morning, Jan. 17.

ASHRIDGE   -  The collision of a Chevrolet pickup and a petroleum  tanker truck on Highway 195 in front of Pleasant Hill #2 Church, left one driver dead and the other driver emotionally shaken on a rainy scene Thursday morning, Jan. 17.

The fatality was confirmed as Billy Ray Cagle, 71, of Double Springs, driver of a 1989 Chevrolet Z-71 pickup, according to authorities on the scene.

Driver of the 2018 Western Star petroleum tanker truck has not been released by troopers, but will be provided when that information is made available.

The call of a two vehicle wreck possibly involving a fatality came in around 9 a.m., resulting in response from numerous first responder agencies to the area of 195 in front of the church parking lot.

Authorities arrived to find a blue Chevrolet Z-71 pickup truck heavily impacted in the rear sitting off the edge of the highway at the edge of the north bound lane, but facing south toward Double Springs,  according to Winston County Sheriff’s Deputy Bryan Kirkpatrick.

The Fowlers FHP Hamilton petroleum truck, impacted heavily on the front of the cab, was blocking the north bound lane of 195 facing  the direction of Haleyville, officials on the scene said.

Kirkpatrick, who responded to the scene along with three other officers from the sheriff’s office, noted there was entrapment in the blue pickup truck.

Firefighters had to use the Jaws of Life apparatus to pry open the truck’s passenger side door in order to free the occupant, who was removed from the vehicle by fire officials, noted Ashridge Fire Chief Dewayne Baker.

“We knocked out both windows (of the pickup) and saw that the driver was deceased,” Baker noted. “So we just waited on the coroner to get there.”

Firefighters used the spreader device on their Jaws of Life to pop open the passenger side door, so fire officials could remove the body, Baker indicated.

Ashridge Firefighters received assistance from Winston County Sheriff’s Office, troopers with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, Alabama Department of Transportation road crew, Double Springs fire department and medics with Regional Paramedical Service ambulance, Baker said.

Cagle was the only occupant of the pickup truck, authorities on the scene confirmed.

The driver of the tanker truck did not appear to be injured, just emotionally shaken, according to Baker. 

“As far as I know, he has not been taken for any treatment,” Baker said. “He refused treatment, so he was on his own.” 

Cagle was pronounced dead on the scene due to blunt force trauma and transported from the scene by the Winston County Coroner’s Office, noted Deputy Coroner Tracey Yealock.

Cagle was released to Nichols Funeral Home of Haleyville, which will be handling arrangements, Yealock said.

“It’s rough when you still have family members coming up, getting up here to see who it is, and we’re trying to secure the scene,” Baker said.

Winston County Emergency Management was called to scene on a possible fuel leak from the tanker truck, but no leak was reported, according to officials on the scene.

“It’s just routine that anytime there is a traffic accident with hazardous materials or a hazardous substance, that EMA will respond, just to make sure the scene is safe, to protect the citizens of the surrounding areas and make sure we keep a good check on our environment,” stated Winston EMA Director Jimmy Madison.

“There was no leak, no damage to any of the valves,” he confirmed. “It would have been a much larger scene. Clean up would have been the biggest issue,” Madison added.

“The bumper and the front of the truck was the only damage that I noticed,” reported Kirkpatrick.

Kirkpatrick directed fire departments to block off the section of Highway 195 where the wreck was located and detour traffic onto county roads 2 and 109,  in order to bypass the scene.

“We cleared all the traffic out to preserve the scene in that area, to keep traffic from flowing through that area...until troopers arrived on the scene and took control of it,” Kirkpatrick said.

“When I got on the scene, traffic was going around the scene and we really didn’t need that to happen,” he added.  â€œThat’s why I got the road shut down and detoured the traffic in order to preserve it.”

A Thursday morning prayer meeting was ongoing at Pleasant Hill #2 church, when the collision occurred on the highway in front of their parking not, noted Craig Baker, church deacon.

Craig Baker noted he was contacted by his father, also a church member, of the wreck and he responded to the scene, he said.

“As they were working the scene, it hit me that we’ve got security cameras on the church,” Craig said. “They are pointed out towards the parking lot, so troopers asked me to come in here, so they have a copy of the security camera footage of exactly what happened.”

Craig noted, according this his own personal viewing of the video footage, that at least two vehicles had pulled out of side roads onto Highway 195 heading south towards Double Springs.

“There was a couple of vehicles that came upon the slow moving vehicle that had just pulled out,” Craig said. The blue truck came upon the slower moving vehicles then apparently lost control, hydroplaning into the path of the tanker truck which was traveling Highway 195 north, according to Craig.

“It’s always terrible when a wreck happens, and especially someone loses their life like happened today,” Craig noted. “We were fortunate we could help.”

The church not only helped by providing video surveillance footage but also by opening their building for emergency responders to come in, warm up from the cold rainy weather and use restrooms. The church also offered emergency responders coffee and refreshments, Craig said.

Premier LLC wrecker service from Hamilton came on the scene to tow the petroleum tanker truck, with Lyle’s Wrecker Service of Haleyville towing the Chevrolet pickup from the scene.

See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.
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