Fuel tanker crash kills driver and sets fire in Federal Way
November 6, 2012 · Updated 1:23 PM
Mirror staff reports:
A Renton man faces vehicular homicide charges for his involvement in a fatal fuel truck crash in Federal Way.
Firefighters and rescue crews responded to the crash at 2:30 a.m. Sunday on southbound Interstate 5, about a mile south of 320th Street.
A tanker truck went off the roadway, smashed through a concrete barrier and burst into flames. South King Fire and Rescue reports that the truck was hauling 9,000 gallons of aviation fuel.
The crash killed the truck's driver, who was identified as Joseph E. Bartkowski, 68, of Sumner.
According to the state patrol, a Nissan Altima was traveling on southbound I-5 when the vehicle collided with the guardrail along the right side of the road. The vehicle came to rest in the roadway. All four occupants got out of the vehicle and moved to the right shoulder of the road, according to reports. A Toyota Camry was traveling southbound and collided with the Altima. The Camry's driver got out of the vehicle and moved to the shoulder, according to the state patrol.
The tanker truck was traveling southbound when it collided with the Altima, veered off the road and down an embankment, where it crashed through a sound wall. The truck rolled and caught fire.
Three people at the scene suffered non-life-threatening injuries and were transported to St. Francis Hospital. A 21-year-old Renton man was allegedly driving the Altima and was taken into custody. Drugs and alcohol were involved in the crash, the state patrol reports. A hearing was held Monday for the suspect, who was released from jail after posting a $100,000 bond. The suspect faces charges of vehicular homicide. The deadline to file charges is Nov. 6.
The load of fuel spilled into an unoccupied storage yard and caught fire as South King Fire units and a Valley Regional Fire Authority ladder truck arrived at the scene.
A Port of Seattle Airport firefighting crash truck was requested to apply large quantities of firefighting foam to suppress the flammable liquid fire, according to South King Fire. A foam dispensing apparatus was requested from the Boeing Fire Department and Renton Fire Department due to the size of the spill.
In addition, the Washington Department of Ecology was working with the trucking company and its private cleanup contractor, NRC-Environmental Services, to clean up remaining fuel.
South King Fire remained on the scene until late Sunday evening to monitor flare-ups of the ignited fuel and to assist with the removal of the tanker truck. Environmental cleanup crews will be on scene for several days to monitor and decontaminate the area.
Photos courtesy of South King Fire and Rescue: