Two crashes Thursday involving multiple vehicles, including one that spilled hazardous liquid oxygen, closed state Highway 126 for more than eight hours. Officials spent the day cleaning up the mess between Parish Lane and Minson Road, two miles east of Powell Butte.
One of the crashes was a head-on collision between a medical supply van carrying the liquid oxygen and a pickup at 6:50 a.m., according to Crook County Fire and Rescue Chief Matt Smith.
Two people in the crash were injured and transported to St. Charles Redmond, Smith said.
The highway was opened by 3:17 p.m.
A hazmat team from Salem was sent to clean up the liquid oxygen, which has a temperature of 297 degrees below zero, that dripped onto the asphalt.
It is unknown how much of the liquid oxygen leaked out of the tank, Smith said.
“The medical supply van had a liquid oxygen tank that can hold up to 250 gallons,” Smith said. “We don’t know how full it is.”
Liquid oxygen may cause or intensify fire and could cause burns and frostbite if touched, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Larry and Maryann Cerullo, who own a 45-acre horse ranch off Minson Road, received a call Thursday morning from Crook County fire officials to let them know the liquid oxygen crash occurred on the edge of their property and damaged their fence line.
The Cerullos, whose house is a quarter-mile away from the crash site, were frustrated as they tried to keep their 25 horses, including miniature horses, away from the spill.
“We were just scared they were going to be curious and go to the upper fence and look and check things out. We were kind of panicked about that,” Maryann Cerullo said. “Larry was able to keep them down aways by feeding them extra hay so they wouldn’t go nose around.”
The Cerullos have lived at their ranch for the past 13 years and have seen plenty of crashes in front of their property. The highway rises and dips, causing a blind spot on that stretch, Maryann Cerullo said.
Thick fog and icy roads Thursday morning made for dangerous driving conditions.
“It was horrible,” Maryann Cerullo said. “We couldn’t see the upper part of the property this morning. We couldn’t see there was an accident at all.”
The Crook County Sheriff’s Office, Oregon State Police and Oregon Department of Transportation responded to the crashes along with the fire department.
Crook County Sgt. Bill Elliott said several people were rear-ended when they slowed down and stopped for the emergency lights at the accident scenes.
Elliott is reminding drivers to give extra distance when following other vehicles and follow all instructions from the emergency responders who are directing traffic.
— Reporter: 541-617-7820, firstname.lastname@example.org