GOLD HILL — A semi truck carrying a payload of about 50,000 empty wine bottles crashed just before 4 a.m.on Interstate 5 near milepost 44 Friday, tipping on its side and necessitating a temporary closure of southbound lanes while crews responded.
Driver Taran Singh Shergill, 25, of Elk Grove, Calif.,was driving southbound with his 38,000-pound load when he drifted onto the shoulder by accident, Oregon State Police reported.
Shergill over-corrected, and the truck and trailer crashed and rolled onto their sides, skidding about 100 feet before it came to a stop, sprawled across the southbound slow lane and shoulder. Rogue River Fire, Oregon State Police and the Oregon Department of Transportation responded to the scene. Shergill was not injured but requested he be taken to a hospital for a medical evaluation. OSP cited him for failure to drive within a lane and said "driver inattention" is believed to be a contributing factor to the crash.
A detour was established for southbound traffic, diverting vehicles from I-5 onto Highway 99 at exit 45B, south of Valley of the Rogue State Park. They re-entered the highway at exit 43 near Rock Point. One lane of traffic reopened at about 9 a.m., but crews remained on scene through the day to right the trailer and unload it before it was towed away.
"The challenge was trying to keep the bottles from spilling out of the trailers whose integrity was compromised," said ODOT spokesman Gary Leaming.
Traffic backed up to about Rogue River at one point during the single lane closure, ODOT officials said. Both lanes reopened in the early afternoon, with crews remaining on the shoulder continuing to offload the bottles.
Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.