Shifting load likely cause of O'Leary roundabout crash

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An overturned truck carrying fertilizer at O'Leary corner has prompted emergency officials to shut down Route 2 at O'Leary corner, forced the evacuation of nearby businesses including the Tim Horton's, and has prompted the scrambling of the province's hazmat unit. This photo was taken by Joel Brennan and sent to The Guardian via Twitter. Nobody is allowed in the area now. 

Accident shutdown West Prince highway, forced evacuation of nearby donut shop Thursday

O’LEARY CORNER - A load shift, resulting from the rear wheels riding up onto a slightly raised section of the O’Leary Corner roundabout, is likely what caused a transport truck loaded with a fertilizer compound to tip over Thursday, police say.

Const. Dave Brown said Friday speed is not believed to have been a factor in the rollover.

He said the investigation into the incident, which closed down the roundabout and led to the evacuation of a nearby Tim Hortons, is continuing.

“All-in-all, no one was inured and things turned out better,” Brown said.

Much better, he acknowledged, than what could have happened if the truck’s cargo of ammonium nitrate, destined for McCain’s Fertilizer in Bloomfield, had mixed with the truck’s diesel fuel and an ignition source was introduced to the mix.

Such a combination could cause a massive explosion.

“Yesterday was a great example of agencies working together and solving a problem as quickly as possible and as safely as possible,” Brown said.

“Mind you, the worst case scenario didn’t occur, thankfully, but it definitely gives agencies like Hazmat, the Fire Marshal’s office, the fire departments, the RCMP and the EMS (the opportunity) to go back and look at it and say, ‘What could we have done better?’ That’s what we’ll do.”

The O’Leary Corner roundabout was designed wider than most to accommodate trucks carrying large loads such as wind turbine components.

Inside the main traffic area is a slightly raised section where rear wheels of long loads would travel.

Brown said he believes it is when the truck wheels struck that raised section that the load shifted and caused the truck and its attached trailer to tip onto its side.

The Mountie said the power was temporarily shut off to O’Leary and surrounding areas before being isolated to an outage right at the intersection.

“We wanted to make sure there was no source of spark, fire, anything, to ignite this,” Brown said of the precaution.

Reflecting on the response of emergency personnel from various agencies, Brown commented, “There is always going to be an element of risk to the job. This is another example of it.”

Organizations: Tim Hortons, RCMP, EMS

Geographic location: West Prince, Bloomfield, Leary

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Recent comments

  • BIlly
    December 22, 2013 - 17:09

    If there was not an expensive roundabout here, there would be traffic lights and the truck would have stopped at the red light resulting in no accident. Roundabouts cause accidents.

  • Guy Cousineau
    December 22, 2013 - 08:51

    My physics may be a bit rusty and I don't want to insult the engineers that design roundabouts but here goes. When you drive around a circle the so-called centrifugal force pushes you toward the outside of the circle. If you then raise the left side of the vehicle, you are now leaning out farther and increase the chance of turnover. It is like banking curves on the highway in the wrong direction. Put a rumble strip in the centre section but do not raise it.

  • willie wonka
    December 21, 2013 - 14:51

    I think the raised section is properly called a 'flipping ramp' or 'ramp de la flip' in New Brunswick

  • justin
    December 21, 2013 - 14:11

    How many trucks use that roundabout safely everyday? The round about or it's design is not the problem it the driver of the truck who is to blame for allowing the wheels of the trailer to hit the raised section. If the roundabout was to blame then there would be truck turnovers everyday.

      December 22, 2013 - 08:59

      The load shifted, that's what caused the truck to overturn. Didn't you read the story?

  • Stewart Smith
    December 21, 2013 - 08:47

    PEI roundabouts are ridiculously small. They should all be much bigger, two lanes, with no ramps. Other countries have been doing this for decades, so why not use designs that work!

  • Guy Cousineau
    December 21, 2013 - 08:02

    Let me get this straight. We make the roundabout relatively small (actually this one is larger than most). Then we make this raised speed bump like thing in the middle for overflow, intending truck tires to ride on it. Then we think that the RAISED centre caused the spill. So why make it raised?