A tractor-trailer loaded with eggs, tomatoes, sour cream and other food crashed into a guardrail flanking Highway 260 near Kohl's Ranch Wednesday, clogging traffic for nearly 14 hours.
Safeway driver Don Adamson lost control of his rig at 2:45 a.m. Wednesday on Lewis Hill, a steep stretch of road with hairpin curves just west of Kohl's Ranch.
The truck, which was traveling east toward Heber, flipped onto its right side, snagged the guardrail and slid for more than 100 feet, peeling the metal rail off its posts as it skidded precariously along the top of a ravine.
"The guardrail doubled up in front of the trailer and probably brought the truck to a stop," Christopher-Kohl's Fire Chief Ray Larson said. "We've had a lot of bad wrecks there. It has three hellacious curves and a fairly steep hill going eastbound."
Adamson was treated for neck, back and shoulder injuries at the scene of the accident and taken by ambulance to Payson Regional Medical Center for treatment. He was still in the hospital Wednesday night, but hospital officials would not comment on his condition.
Department of Public Safety officers who investigated the accident said Adamson lost control of the truck because he was speeding.
The posted speed limit in the area is 55 mph. Officers intend to charge Adamson for speeding, DPS Sgt. John Wetten said Wednesday, but a ticket had not yet been issued.
Firefighters used the jaws of life to cut the mangled guardrail away from the tractor-trailer, which leaked diesel fuel onto the highway. Fire crews contained the fuel spill with sand and cinders.
The groceries in the trailer, which were headed to a Safeway store in northern Arizona, stayed tucked in the truck, Larson said.
"Hardly any of the eggs were broken," he said. "That was some packing job."
Highway crews, who spent most of Wednesday removing the wreckage and replacing the guardrail, closed the highway to one-lane traffic until nearly 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. Traffic was backed up for four miles during the afternoon.
The long traffic delays proved to be too much for one truck, which caught on fire shortly after working its way past the accident scene.
The engine of an extended-cab pickup caught fire at 1 p.m. about a quarter of a mile east of the accident, Larson said. At that point, DPS closed both lanes of the highway to give firefighters a chance to douse the fire and tow truck drivers room to haul the tractor-trailer off the road. The highway was closed for nearly two hours.
Wednesday's accident was the fourth rollover accident to happen near Lewis Hill in a little more than a year, Larson said.
"A year ago September, a man driving a water truck flipped in exactly the same spot and went into the ravine," the chief said. "He was paralyzed.
"After that a Chevy S10 with four people in it lost control there. Three of the four were taken to the hospital.
"Five months ago, another truck lost control just west of that spot. The driver was paralyzed.
"Tell people to slow down on that hill."