DOS PALOS — Highway 33 just north of Dos Palos was closed in both directions Friday after a tanker truck used to refuel crop duster helicopters crashed into a large tree, spilling jet fuel and pesticides in the roadway.
The accident occurred just south of Camelia Road near the Dos Palos city limit about 1:30 p.m.
California Highway Patrol officer Tom Melden said the driver, Omar Alfaro, 26, of Firebaugh was driving south on Highway 33 when, for unknown reasons, he drifted off the highway and into the tree.
Sgt. Al Arenas said there were no skid or swerve marks at the scene to indicate that Alfaro tried to take evasive action. Officers have not been able to interview Alfaro, who was taken by helicopter to Memorial Medical Center in Modesto with major injuries.
The truck is owned by West Valley Aviation in Firebaugh. Melden said the capacity of the truck is 400 gallons of fuel, which is highly combustible. About 250 gallons remained in the truck after the accident.
Hazardous materials officials were called to the scene to clean up the contaminated soil and remove the remaining aviation fuel.
Highway 33 was closed between Camelia Road and Santos Street. The highway was still closed at 8 p.m. Friday and wasn't expected to reopen for another three hours.
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