WASHINGTON — The police have charged one driver with causing the crash that overturned a tanker truck and closed Interstate 95 in Laurel, Maryland on Tuesday.
The Maryland State Police say that Christopher Rhodes, 23, of Laurel, has been charged with following too closely, reckless driving, an unsafe lane change and failure to control speed to avoid a collision.
The police say that Rhodes’ Ford Focus abruptly changed lanes on southbound 95 near Md. 198 at about 10:30 a.m. and struck a Chevrolet Malibu driven by Jamie Smith, 34, of Aberdeen, Maryland. William Gorman, 32, of Westminster, Maryland, driving the tanker, tried to avoid both cars, but hit the Focus, turning over and in the process sideswiping a Nissan Altima driven by Ryan Keiser, 24, of Reisterstown, Maryland.
Smith was taken to Laurel Regional Hospital. Everyone else refused medical treatment at the scene.
About 700 of the roughly 7,500 gallons of biodiesel fuel spilled from the tanker, which had two holes in it. Another 400 gallons was captured in drums; the rest was pumped from the tanker into another truck, the Prince George’s County Fire Department says. The department adds that biodiesel is safer to handle than gasoline.
The Maryland Department of the Environment says that most of the fuel was contained on the roadway and didn’t enter the storm drains.
The northbound lanes were reopened at about 1 p.m.; the southbound lanes, at about 3:30 p.m. It took more than seven hours before all lanes were reopened in both directions.
Assistant Fire Chief Paul Gomez says that a contractor may be needed to do more environmental remediation, which could take several days.
WTOP’s Brennan Haselton, Andrew Mollenbeck and Amanda Iacone contributed to this report.
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