UNOCCIPIED AR TANKER CRASHES DOWN 600 FT RAVINE

     

Saturday, December 7, 2013 rkansas' Grassy Knob VFD lost a water tanker on Tuesday when it crashed down a 600-foot ravine near Beaver Lake, totaling the vehicle. Grassy Knob Fire Chief Bob McVey was heading to Springfield, Mo., early Tuesday morning to take the 3,000-gallon water tanker in for repairs to its pump when a light buzzed indicating the air pressure was low.

McVey pulled over on Mundell Road near Starkey Marina, walked around the vehicle to look for an air leak and didn't find anything. He went inside to use the restroom before going on his way, and when he came back, the tanker was gone. "It was idling for five or six minutes," McVey said. "Why it rolled down the hill, I could not tell you."

The tanker had rolled down into a 600-foot-deep ravine on Doug Powell's property and overturned.
"Through the fog and the darkness, I couldn't see it at first," McVey said.
"I was sound asleep," Powell said, adding that his neighbor likened the sound of the rolling truck to thunder.
"It was sickening," McVey said of seeing the smashed cab and broken glass.
He estimated the tanker, a 1992 Mack truck with about 13,000 miles on it, was worth about $40,000. He said it was totaled, adding that the electronic dump valve might be salvageable.
"It's trashed," Powell said of the tanker. "By the time they get it out of here, it's going to be more trashed."
The next step in the process is getting the tanker out of the ravine on Powell's property.
"It's going to be a big deal to get it out of here," Powell said, adding that they would probably have to remove it from his driveway, likely cutting down some of the trees on his property in the process. "I live in the forest -- a few trees isn't going to make a huge difference, but [there] will be a visible path from where they're going to bring up the tanker."
As of press time, a crew from Randy's Towing in Berryville was scheduled to try to remove the tanker from the ravine with a bulldozer on Wednesday morning.
"It might take five trucks to get it out," McVey said. "In all honesty, it's a chore for a human to climb out of that ravine, let alone a 3,000-gallon truck."
McVey said if the Wednesday morning attempt didn't work, they would have to locate a larger bulldozer to get it out. He added that there shouldn't be any harm in the truck sitting there for a couple of days.
"So far, the fuel tank is holding," Powell said. "We haven't noticed any fuel leaking."
In the meantime, the Grassy Knob Fire Department won't be without a tanker, as it also has two 2,000-gallon vehicles.
"Tankers are critical to us because we have no fire hydrants," McVey said.
The department initially said after the accident that the truck was not insured with collision insurance, but McVey has since learned that the tanker is indeed covered and will be replaced.
Grassy Knob will rely on the other two tankers while McVey explores the possibilities of getting a new or used tanker.
"We're going to be OK -- but not as good as we used to be [with this tanker]," the chief said.
"It's just a devastation," McVey said of the accident. "This will set us back a year or two."