SALINA — A semitrailer carrying potatoes struck a guardrail on eastbound Interstate Highway 70, slid and lost its front axle, spilling diesel fuel and potatoes and causing the highway to be closed for more than six hours, according to the Kansas Highway Patrol.
The incident occurred about five miles east of Niles Road in Saline County.
KHP trooper Levi Fleming said the semi was eastbound on I-70 just before 5 a.m. Tuesday when it struck the guard rail that serves as a barrier to the pillars on the bridge overpass.
During the crash, the semi slid more than 100 feet, causing the front axle of the truck to come off. The cab of the semi came to rest in the right shoulder and the trailer was blocking eastbound traffic.
Potatoes and diesel fuel were spilled from the truck, which caught on fire.
The driver, who was the only person in the truck, was not injured in the crash.
"The driver said he was reaching for something in his passenger seat when the truck began to shift," Fleming said. "There's also a slight curve right there, so there were multiple factors coming together to cause the unstable condition."
Fleming said drivers were instructed to take the Niles Road exit, go eastbound on Old Highway 40 and get back onto I-70 at the Solomon exit, or mile marker 266.
Fleming said the eastbound lane was reopened shortly after 11 a.m., after the potatoes and truck were cleared from the highway.