Military truck carrying explosives overturns

Thursday, August 17th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Photo courtesy: WFAA-TV, KOTV's sister station in Dallas.

HUGO, Okla. – An Oklahoma National Guard truck carrying inert MRLS rockets flipped on a highway ramp Thursday, injuring two Guardsmen and spilling its load. Two of the six rocket pods were damaged.

"The rockets will not explode," said Lt. Col. Pat Scully, Guard spokesman. "There's no chance. You have to have some type of detonating device. They do not carry those. Those are completely separate."

The rockets are contained in pods. "So it's not like we have loose rockets all over the place," Scully said. Six rockets are contained in each pod. The damaged pods did not break open, he said.

Authorities immediately evacuated people from a one-mile radius around the crash site as a precaution, including students attending the first day of classes at Hugo Elementary School.

Specialist Ron Barrett, a medic who was following the truck in another vehicle, said the 21-year-old driver and a 55-year-old passenger were injured. Scully said one of the men had head contusions. The other had a broken arm and some other injuries. They were being treated at Choctaw Memorial Hospital and were to be flown later to the hospital at Fort Sill.

Scully said the men assigned to the 1345th Transportation Co. based in McAlester were on a training mission. The unit's job is to haul supplies. They were hauling the rockets from the Lockheed-Martin plant in East Camden, Ark., to the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant for storage.

Sheila Plummer with the Hugo Police Department said the military truck flipped on a U.S. 271 ramp.

Scully said the preliminary investigation showed the truck apparently had taken the wrong ramp and the driver was trying to get to the correct ramp when the vehicle rolled once and spilled part of its load.

The vehicle was traveling in a convoy. Scully said another truck was en route from McAlester to pick up the load and continue the mission.

Hugo Public Schools began evacuating Hugo Elementary around 10:15 a.m. as a precaution. The school sits within one mile of the accident, said clerk Shirley Cody.

About 500 students in second through fifth grades and about 50 teachers were being taken by school bus to the Hugo high school gymnasium. School officials were trying to determine how they might feed the students during the evacuation, she said.

"This is the first day of school, and they're hungry," Cody said.

Cody said homes within a one-mile radius also were being evacuated.