Early Morning Accident Claims One Life

It was an early morning nightmare that clamied the life of 41-year old Earnest D. Douglas of Gulfport.  He was the driver of a tanker truck carrying 8,500 gallons of fuel when authorities say he lost control of his rig.

"The local sheriff's department got a call of a gasoline tanker that had turned over on the east bound on-ramp to Interstate 10 at Franklin Creek Road. The driver was killed in the accident; there's no other vehicles involved," says Earl Ethridge with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.

Amazingly, nothing ignited during the accident; however, throughout the morning, the threat of an explosion was a dangerous reality.

Chief Doug Winters of the Franklin Creek Fire Department says, "Our biggest concern right now is we still have fuel leaking out of the truck and a possibility of a flash from it."

Every precaution was made to prevent that from happening.

"We're in the process of off-loading the gas off the tanker. We've put a foam blanket down, we've got the fire department here on standby," says Ethridge.

Lingering fumes served as a constant reminder of the danger. But another concern, was how to contain the spilled gasoline. Some of the gas drained into nearby ditches posing an environmental threat.

"The area back over here, is part of the Sand Hill Crane Grand Bay Estuary, and we are concerned about any gasoline migrating through the ground waters over there. We're going to suck up any loose gasoline that's left on the ground, and then it's just a matter of getting some heavy equipment in here and digging until we get down to clean dirt," says Etheridge.

A task that would keep clean up crews busy throughout the day.

Officials say the truck had just left the Chevron Refinery. It was a Clarke Oil Company truck.