Truck in ditch interrupts traffic

PARKERSBURG – No one was injured after a tractor-trailer driver dropped his vehicle into a ditch along West Virginia 2 to avoid striking stopped traffic in front of him Thursday afternoon, officials said.

Officials were alerted to the accident at 3:19 p.m. Thursday after a call reported that a tractor-trailer was stuck on its side in a ditch along W.Va. 2, said Sgt. J.E. Stout with the West Virginia State Police Wood County Detachment.

Eugene Gandee, age and hometown unknown, was driving the tractor-trailer northbound on West Virginia 2, when he approached the entrance to Meadowview Drive, said Stout.

The traffic was stopped and waiting to turn left into the Meadowview Drive housing area, said Stout.

The tractor-trailer, owned by Burkhart Trucking and Excavating of Lowell, was carrying a load of sand when the accident happened, Stout said.

Gandee reportedly dropped the tractor-trailer into the ditch willingly in order to avoid striking the stopped traffic from the rear, Stout said.

Stout believes that Gandee’s brakes were glazed with heat from the repeated hills in the area and were not performing properly because of the glazing issues.

The suspected hot brakes were unable to stop the heavy load, leaving Gandee with the options of striking the stopped traffic from behind or stopping his tractor-trailer in a different way, Stout said.

Gandee ran off the right side of the road and placed his passenger’s side wheels into the ditch along W.Va. 2, Stout said.

The tractor-trailer tipped against the steep embankment and slid uphill for approximately 50 feet before it came to a stop.

Gandee avoided striking the cars ahead of him and the tractor-trailer caused only minor damage to the embankment that it rested against, Stout said.

The accident was merely an inconvenience for the traffic, Stout said.

The West Virginia State Police, officials from the Department of Highways and the Waverly Volunteer Fire Department responded to the scene.

The accident backed up vehicles in both directions while officials worked to extract the tractor-trailer from the mud and the ditch.

At 4:20 p.m., officials closed W.Va. 2 so that attempts could be made to pull the tractor-trailer free.

The tractor-trailer came out of the ditch cleanly, with its load of sand intact.

Gandee was not injured in the accident and no citations were issued by the West Virginia State Police, Stout said.

The cause of the accident is listed as driver error with minor mechanical errors, Stout said.