2 killed, 19 hurt in Arkansas logging truck wreck

CLINTON, Ark. (AP) — Two people were killed and 19 others injured when a logging truck barreled out of control after its brakes failed, overturning and then dumping its cargo onto a crew of more than two dozen construction workers on a bridge, authorities said.

Van Buren County Sheriff Scott Bradley said the wreck occurred Monday afternoon on a U.S. 65 bridge in Clinton, about 70 miles north of Little Rock.

“They were like sitting ducks on the bridge,” Bradley said. “There was nowhere for them to run to get away from the logs.”

The driver of the logging truck, Jerry Hickman, suffered minor injuries, and 19 people were taken to a hospital in Clinton, officials said. Ozark Health Medical Center administrator David Deaton said 12 of those patients suffered “major injuries.”

The crew was working on an Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department project to widen the bridge from three lanes to five.

The sheriff said Hickman drove down an incline toward the northern edge of the bridge and then the truck flipped. Logs fell off the truck and landed on the workers on the bridge.

“He got up to a good speed when he lost it,” Bradley said.

Rescue teams had to cross steel rebar rods to reach the injured, he told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/T9DSUO ).

“It was pretty horrific,” he said. “We had people trapped under logs, people with broken legs, people with severe head lacerations. It was very chaotic.”

The south of the crash startled Bob Galbreath, who owns a nearby nursery.

“It was violent enough to shake the frame of the greenhouses,” he said. “It sounded like a natural-gas explosion. That’s what I thought at first. I thought one of the construction workers hit a gas line.”

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