Syrup truck accident causes sticky situation

Print Article


The Facebook posts started Wednesday morning with a warning.

About 8:30 a.m., word came that a semi had flipped near the Mullan Trail Exit on Interstate 90, east of Coeur d’Alene. The hill was foggy, the Facebook post warned.

“A diesel just flipped over on its side just before Cda… Emergency vehicles have not arrived… So it’s going to be backed up! Super foggy through that area,” Dan’s Tattoo Shop in Wallace posted.

“Heads up,” someone posted a little while later, adding a photograph of a semi trailer on its side.

“The drivers are safe,” Susie Yount of Silverton added. “We [saw] it happen.” She stopped at the scene to check on the truck driver and passenger.

What might initially have seemed like a routine accident and subsequent brief delay was something else. The traffic delay morphed into what one Facebook writer called a “five-hour drive from hell.”

It wasn’t routine at all, according to Megan Sausser of the Idaho Transportation Department.

“It was a very unique situation,” Sausser said.

The problem was the cargo.

The westbound rig was transporting syrup when it flipped. As workers from Superior Towing in Coeur d’Alene attempted to move the mess, they encountered another sticky problem. Syrup from broken containers inside the trailer began leaking onto the road, slickening the highway surface.

“At that point, it covered one lane and the spill was small,” Sausser said.

By about 10 a.m., the semi was still on its side. Workers had put down flares.

By 3:30 p.m. both lanes of westbound traffic were closed. Traffic was backed up to Beauty Bay, one Facebook user reported.

And then, about 4:30 p.m., according to the Idaho Transportation Department, as workers attempted to permanently clear the wreckage from the road, all hell broke loose. Traffic that had been moving slow as — well — molasses, ground to a stop.

“There was 10 inches of syrup at the median, and it covered all four lanes,” Sausser said.

Motorists who had waited since late afternoon were afforded no respite. Traffic would not freely move until midnight and crews would continue to work into Thursday to clean up what was described by an Idaho State trooper as “The Tapioca Syrup Crash.”

As motorists and passengers including children who had waited in their cars for hours without moving and were required to relieve themselves on the side of the road became more and more irate, workers used a variety of means to ensure the road was safe for cars and trucks.

“There is no manual on how to clean up syrup,” Sausser said.

Crews returned Thursday to clean the block of road marked by orange cones and 45 mph speed limit signs.

“There is still a giant patch of ice from the spill westbound yesterday,” Jennifer Gilley wrote. “When you see the construction signs to slow to 45 mph, slow down. At 45, I still slid. It’s like glass.”

But the ire of motorists who were stalled for hours the night before hadn’t been tempered.

“It never ceases to amaze me, when there is a horrific accident that ties up the pass the powers that be let everyone sit,” DiAnna Bechler Macklin of Post Falls wrote. “Why could they not take care of incident w/emergency personnel. identify approx time of shut down … move barriers, fill in the center and take care of the ever increasing line of cars. Turn them around. If they can change lanes in a heart beat for construction they can do this. Also shut down the on-ramp that are leading into this snafu.”

Print Article

Read More Local News

Teens encourage youth to make healthy choices

November 13, 2019 at 5:00 am | Bonner County Daily Bee OLDTOWN — National Red Ribbon Week was established in honor of Enrique “Kiki” Camarena, a special agent for the Drug Enforcement Agency who was tortured and murdered by Mexican drug traffickers in ...


Read More

Elks hosting holiday meal

November 13, 2019 at 5:00 am | Bonner County Daily Bee SANDPOINT — November is a time of great tradition for Sandpoint Elks Lodge 1376. Wednesday, Nov. 20, the lodge is hosting a dinner for the area’s seniors and veterans. The dinner, which will be serv...


Read More

Settlement reached in wrongful death suit

November 13, 2019 at 5:00 am | Bonner County Daily Bee PRIEST RIVER — A $1 million insurance settlement is resolving a wrongful death lawsuit involving a jogger who was accidentally killed when a logging truck overturned on Dufort Road in 2017. First Di...


Read More

PRE students pay tribute on Veterans Day

November 13, 2019 at 5:00 am | Bonner County Daily Bee PRIEST RIVER — The military men and women who serve and protect the United States come from all walks of life. “They are parents, children, grandparents, friends, neighbors and even assistant princi...


Read More

Contact Us

(208) 263-9534
PO Box 159
Sandpoint, ID 83864

©2019 Bonner County Daily Bee Terms of Use Privacy Policy