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Anniversary of Houston’s worst truck accident in history

Forty-two years ago, Gerald Ford was president of the United States and Uvalde’s most famous resident, Dolph Briscoe, was governor of Texas. On a mid-May morning in 1976, the worst traffic accident in Houston history unfold.

Just past 11 in the morning, a tractor-trailer loaded with a tank containing 7,500 gallons of anhydrous ammonia lost control and crashed through a guardrail. The large commercial vehicle then careened off a ramp and fell to the Southwest Freeway below. The tank ruptured, releasing a cloud of deadly ammonia that quickly engulfed the 610 at 59 interchange.

A recent TV news report on the anniversary of the tragic truck accident stated that one person died in the initial crash and five more were killed after inhaling the ammonia. Ammonia fumes resulted in injuries to 178 people, including 78 who were hospitalized as a result.

After an investigation of the crash, the National Transportation Safety Board stated that the most likely cause of that day’s horror was the excess speed of the tank truck. The liquid ammonia in the partially loaded truck surged laterally inside the tank; its sudden shift in weight likely caused the vehicle to overturn.

A TV news report from that day showed bloodied injury victims, as well as motorists and rescuers gasping for air as the ammonia fumes enveloped the area.

Fortunately for us all, these types of truck accidents are extremely rare. Few crashes in U.S. history have affected so many people. What is not so rare: truckers who ignore safety in hopes of cutting time off of their travels.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an 18-wheeler wreck, contact an attorney experienced in commercial vehicle accident litigation.

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