BOWDOINHAM — Crews worked feverishly in an early spring heat wave Wednesday to unload 20 tons of butter from a tractor-trailer truck that had crashed through a guardrail and plowed through the woods in the median strip off Interstate 295.

Maine State Police Trooper Niles Krech said no one was hurt in the crash, but the 40,000 pounds of butter had to be removed from the wrecked trailer and put into a new rig.

“They’re doing their best to salvage all of it,” Krech said as trucking company employees used a skid steer to transfer the butter. “They’re saying they can keep it cool enough.”

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection also responded to mop up more than 100 gallons of diesel fuel oil that spilled from the truck’s fuel tanks.

The crash happened shortly after 8 a.m. as the 2007 Volvo semi-truck, owned by A-C Motor Express of West Springfield, Mass., was heading north in the right lane on I-295. The driver, Kevin Bryant, 41, of Chicopee, Mass., lost control of the truck and crossed over the left lane, punched through a guardrail, crossed a long section of grass, then continued about 100 feet into the woods.

“You can’t even see the truck from 295,” Krech said.

Bryant told police he fell asleep at the wheel. He was not wearing a seat belt at the time, Krech said.

Bryant was standing beside the interstate when rescue crews arrived and was taken to an area hospital to be evaluated, but he was not injured in the crash, Krech said.

The State Police Commercial Vehicles Unit responded to the crash. Charges against Bryant are possible, Krech said.

Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman Samantha DePoy-Warren said the crash split open the truck’s side-saddle tanks and emptied them of an estimated 100 to 150 gallons of fuel. The DEP supervised the cleanup, which was undertaken by Clean Harbors. The process of vacuuming up the spill fuel and contaminated soil continued into Wednesday evening.

DEP officials did not expect the spill to harm the ground around the crash or a nearby stream.

“The department is confident that the collaborative and quick response effort led to the recovery of nearly all the product,” Depoy-Warren said.

Depoy-Warren said she passed by the crash site shortly after it occurred and was pleasantly surprised to learn that nobody had been hurt.

“Given how deep the truck was wedged into very thick woods, I think the driver is incredibly lucky to have walked away,” she said. “It was in there so tightly it looked like the trees had actually grown up around it.”

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.