It took a couple hours longer than expected, but the the giant semitruck carrying 57 tons of molten sulfur that plummeted 200 feet in a raging blizzard last week was retrieved from its icy grave on Wednesday afternoon.
The extraction of the tanker trailer, which closed Highway 28 between Farson and Lander for six hours, was completed by more than a dozen workers and three “huge” wreckers, according to Wyoming Department of Transportation spokesman Cody Beers.
“This was one of the worst places you can lose a truck,” Beers told Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday evening. “It was 200 feet down a steep embankment in 3 feet of snow.”
“It took about 15 guys working their tails off for six hours to get it done,” Beers said. “They did a great job and my hat is off to those guys who did all that heavy lifting.”
Beers said it was important to get the tanker extracted because there is always the risk of a spill.
In this case, all 114,000 pounds of molten sulfur remained in the tanker and, save for a small amount diesel fuel that spilled, it went as clockwork.
“It took a little longer than we expected because there was a tree in the way and a couple of big granite boulders,” Beers said. “But the company did a great job and got it done not only expeditiously but safely.”
Trucker In Good Shape
As for the trucker involved in the accident, he survived without significant injuries.
William Tenlen told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday that aside from a stiff neck and a cut on his hand, he was “mostly intact" after the 200-foot fall followed by the crash.
Beers said Tenlen is a friend of his who is a “very experienced truck driver.”
“Unfortunately, he had some bad luck on Dec. 7, but we’re pleased that he’s on his way to being healthy again,” Beers said.
Tenlen is on a two-month leave of absence from work to recover and attend physical therapy for his neck.
Video Of Extraction
Beers sent Cowboy State Daily some video of the extraction. It shows the intact tanker and the rig itself looked remarkably kept together despite the 200-foot fall down the canyon.
He said this was a different outcome than an accident more than a year ago with a tanker full of beer bottles.
That one was a total mess, Beers said.
"That truck actually busted open and the bottles came out everywhere," he said.
Jimmy Orr can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.