A tractor-trailer loaded with road striping paint plunged down a New Mexico mountainside this week, injuring the driver and coating an acre of national park.
Officials from Bandelier National Monument have been working to evaluate the mess left behind when the rig missed a sharp curve Tuesday and tumbled 200 feet down a steep slope into the park.
National Park Service
|The tractor-trailer rig missed a sharp curve on eastbound N.M. 4 and fell about 200 feet down a steep slope into Bandelier National Monument, spewing paint in all directions.|
The truck spewed its 2,200-gallon load of white and yellow road striping paint until trees stopped the tumbling wreckage, reports said.
Miraculously, the injured driver was pulled clear of the wreckage. Some reports later described his injuries as “bumps and bruises,” but he was flown to a hospital and his condition was unavailable.
News reports identified the driver as Francisco Maes, 51, of Willard, NM. No identification was available on his employer.
The crash left nearly an acre of forested ground splashed in barrels of paint, and diesel fuel was leaking from the truck, reports said. The spill is visible from roads and hiking tails in and around the monument.
Assessing the Damage
By Wednesday, the paint had congealed, and workers were able to remove the clumps by hand, revealing minimal subsurface damage, reports said. Park staff were assessing the coatings’ toxicity.
The Los Alamos National Laboratory Hazardous Materials Team helped stop the spread of the diesel fuel leak.
Los Alamos police were investigating the cause of the crash, which occurred about nine miles from the park's Visitor Center and main archaeological trails.
Police and the National Park Service were working with the Los Alamos Lab, Los Alamos Fire, and the New Mexico State Police and Department of Transportation to investigate safety, cleanup and environmental issues.