WATERLOO, Iowa --- A truck driver jumped to safety from a burning cab as it dangled over a highway overpass this morning.
Firefighters spent several hours dousing the trailer after it plummeted from Highway 218 and landed next to West Mullan Avenue.
Officials said the load contained engine parts, and some of were apparently made of magnesium, igniting blinding explosions.
“I was taking care of a customer, and all of the sudden I see sparks flying,” said Jerry Demery, who was working at the nearby King Star convenience store. “I heard a big, old boom like a couple times, like three times. The boom was so loud and so hard, that it was having the doors shake.”
The crash happened shortly after midnight as freezing temperatures iced over area roads. The southbound tractor was pulling two trailers when the driver apparently lost control, sending the cab and one trailer over the edge.
“When we got here, the semi cab and first part of the dual trailers were hanging over the rail there, and the cab was on fire, and the guy was trying to climb out,” said Capt. Bill Harter with Waterloo Fire Rescue.
The driver jumped from the cab and landed about 15 feet below, Harter said. He said the trucker wasn’t injured. The driver was identified as Victor Ivantsov of St. Louis. He has been cited for failure to maintain control.
Firefighters then attempted to line up tow trucks or cranes to remove the trailer from the railing.
“That wasn’t working. There was no way they felt they could do that safely,” Harter said.
He said the fire began to spread from to the first trailer, so an endloader used to push the trailer over the edge. The trailer continued to burn until about 5:30 a.m.
The second trailer remained on the overpass and was later removed.
Traffic underneath the overpass was shut down, and authorities said they are keep the southbound span closed until it can be checked by a bridge inspector to make sure it is safe.