Jackknifed Semi Blocks Highway

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A jackknifed tractor-trailer rig leaking diesel fuel snarled Memorial Day holiday traffic for more than three hours Friday.

The accident, which occurred May 26 less than a mile north of Strawberry, took place after a northbound passenger car driven by 38-year-old Sandra Tomaseloo struck the rig broadside.

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A passenger vehicle struck this tractor trailer, dislodging its gas tank and sending it off the road. Heavy Memorial Day traffic was blocked for three hours while the scene was cleaned up.

Department of Public Safety officer Tiffany Harold said Tomaseloo's car strayed off the right side of the highway causing her to overcorrect and cross the median into the southbound lane of traffic.

Tomaseloo's careening car struck a Knight Transportation tractor-trailer rig about where the fuel tanks are located.

The impact of the collision dislodged one tank and sent it rolling several yards from where the rig rested across both lanes of Beeline Highway.

Although the leaking diesel fuel never ignited, officers were concerned a fire could break out and possibly ignite a forest fire in the heavily wooded area.

Five DPS officers, the Pine Strawberry Fire Department and Gila County Sheriff's Deputies responded to the accident.

The driver of the rig was not injured, but Tomaseloo was transported to Payson Regional Medical Center where she was treated and released, Harold said.

Tomaseloo was cited for failure to control her vehicle.

The accident stalled traffic in both directions.

Bob Earl, who commutes from Prescott to Payson daily to work at the Payson Roundup, said he was stopped in the stalled traffic at about the Ponderosa Market in Pine.

"When I finally got to Strawberry, there were trucks, trailers, toy haulers and people all over the place," he said.

"A fireman recommended we go back to Pine or Payson because Strawberry was so congested."

Instead, Earl detoured across the winding Fossil Creek Road back to Highway 260 and on to Prescott.

Only two days after the accident, another similar incident occurred at almost the same spot.

"The skid marks are almost on top of each other," Harold said.

A northbound Toyota truck being driven by an 18-year-old Valley resident strayed off the right side of the road and, like Tomaseloo, he overcorrected.

The truck went into a skid and rolled onto its side, injuring a 17-year-old passenger.

She was airlifted to a Valley-area hospital. Her condition is not known.

The driver was cited for failure to control his vehicle.

According to DPS reports, neither the driver nor passenger were wearing seat belts.

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