Trucker injured by bottle rocket, flips tanker of diesel

| 7/5/2005

What appears to be a case of mob mentality ended with an overturned tanker of diesel, an injured driver and the evacuation of an apartment complex.

In the early hours of Tuesday, July 5, trucker Rafael Diaz was traveling eastbound on Donald Lee Hollowell Highway when he was hit in the head with a bottle rocket, Atlanta police told news Web site

The shock caused Diaz to lose control of his truck – and the 7,500 gallons of diesel in its tanker trailer – which crossed the westbound lane of traffic, smashed a fire hydrant, flipped on its side and slid down an embankment into an apartment complex parking lot.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, firefighters evacuated the apartments near where the truck careened to a stop. Jolene Butts Freeman, a spokesperson for the Atlanta Fire Department, told the Journal Constitution that only about 20 gallons of fuel leaked from the truck, and a second tanker was brought in to remove the damaged rig’s payload.

Freeman told the Journal-Constitution that a crowd of as many as 50 people had climbed onto the flipped truck by the time firefighters arrived on the scene.

“It’s something out of a movie,” Freeman said. “Why they were on top of the tanker, it beats me.”

The driver was taken to nearby Grady Memorial Hospital, where he was treated for serious facial injuries, Atlanta police spokesperson Sgt. Keven Losty told Losty also said no arrests have been made.