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Yellowstone County truck accident: Crews deal with propane leak

The transportation of potentially volatile chemicals and fuels is a necessary part of sustaining Montana agriculture and industry. Nonetheless, the heavy vehicles that distribute these materials by road are a potential hazard to other drivers. Companies that operate these trucks are obliged to keep them in good mechanical condition to minimize the risk of disaster and injury.

A driver involved in a recent propane truck accident in Billings was fortunate to be able to walk away from the overturned vehicle with only superficial injuries. Transporting the liquid fuel for his employer, a Worden farm supply business, the driver lost control of the delivery truck at an intersection. The vehicle only came to a stop when it left the road and tipped over.

A variety of emergency responders and local authorities cooperated in the aftermath of the accident. Two local fire departments, a hazardous materials team, the state highway patrol, and the county sheriff's office helped at the scene. The 1,500 gallons of propane being carried by the truck began to leak, but the problem was eventually brought under control. The environmental damage caused by the propane was thought to be null.

However, the road was closed to traffic for part of the afternoon, though it was determined unnecessary to evacuate nearby homes.

If, as the driver alleges, mechanical failure caused the accident, this could be a case of negligence on the part of the company. State officials plan to evaluate whether the cause of the accident was indeed mechanical.

Thankfully, no other vehicles were involved; the driver's injuries are not believed to be serious unhurt; and no emergency responders appeared affected by the gas leak. In other heavy vehicle accidents, drivers, fellow motorists and other responders don't always get off as lightly. In those cases, if a commercial vehicle owner's negligence is a factor in the accident, then the owner may be held liable for any resulting injuries.

Source: Billings Gazette, "Traffic flowing again on Blue Creek Road after propane truck crash," March 14, 2014

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