I-44 In Tulsa Re-opened After Fatal Accident

Tuesday, November 21st 2006, 4:28 pm
By: News On 6

Westbound traffic along Interstate 44 is flowing again after a deadly accident shut down part of the highway for several hours on Tuesday.

The wreck happened Tuesday afternoon alongside I-44, near 145th East Avenue. Traffic was backed up for miles.

News on 6 reporter Ashli Sims says the twisted wreckage is all that was left of the 18-wheeler that crashed just off Interstate 44, near 145th East Avenue.

"We have had witnesses that have stated they were following the tractor trailer that was involved westbound. Witnesses stated that several times the tractor trailer was swerving off the roadway," said OHP Trooper George Brown.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says the truck crashed into a concrete embankment, bending the leg of the traffic sign that stretched across the highway. Troopers say the truck tumbled into a ditch; the cab of the truck separated from the trailer and caught fire with the driver trapped inside.

Tulsa and Catoosa firefighters say someone did stop and try to help get the driver out of the burning cab.

"It is a pretty amazing thing that a bystander like that who has no clue who the guy is and still want to help him the best he can and ya' know he did," said Jason Rogers with the Catoosa Fire.

Despite that Good Samaritans effort, the driver died at the scene. OHP identified the trucker as 52-year-old Larry Green of Drumright.

Troopers say it wasn't actually the accident, but the damaged sign that caused the traffic shutdown. Oklahoma Department of Transportation officials say with the gusty wind the sign could fly off, and turn one terrible accident into a much larger tragedy.

Officials secured the sign with a safety strap long enough to allow dozens of stalled truckers to pass through. Workers ended up severing 8 bolts, and removing the sign all together before opening one westbound lane of the highway.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol reported earlier that the driver Larry Green was a diabetic, but they would not speculate whether his condition had anything to do with the cause of the crash.