One killed, one injured in wreck on U.S. 61 North|[01/12/08]

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 12, 2008

An Arkansas man was killed and another man was taken to University Medical Center following a wreck Friday involving two 18-wheelers at U.S. 61 North and North Washington Street.

According to Vicksburg police at the scene, a tanker truck turning onto U.S. 61 from North Washington Street at 10:46 a.m. lost its load and overturned into the path of a truck headed south on U.S. 61. Northbound traffic on U.S. 61 was slowed and southbound vehicles were diverted onto North Washington as crews worked to clear debris. All lane were reopened about 6 p.m, said Vicksburg Police Patrolman Bobby Jones.

William Roy O’Neal, 58, 3401-B Garland, Texarkana, Ark., who was driving the tanker, was pronounced dead of head and chest trauma at the scene by Warren County Coroner Doug Huskey.

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John Mast, 50, of Mountain View, Ark., was taken to UMC. Mast was in fair condition Friday evening said a hospital spokesman.

An official with Monroe, La.-based Central Asphalt said O’Neal’s tanker was loaded with bulk cement.

“He’s been truck-driving for the last 15 years — that was his career,” said Karen Brothers, O’Neal’s fiance.

Brothers, of Monroe, said O’Neal had lived in Texarkana but had moved to Monroe last year.

Brothers said O’Neal, whom she had known for 34 years, drove through Vicksburg as often as twice a day and was very familiar with the route.

The truck driven by Mast was carrying two, 50-foot concrete beams which broke apart on the left side of the road as the tanker appeared to have flipped over the beams when both vehicles came to rest about 50 yards beyond the intersection.

O’Neal may have “taken the curve too fast and the load shifted,” Jones said, causing his truck to overturn and slide into the path of the other.

Meanwhile, officials working the scene received a scare when the driver of a northbound log truck appeared to lose control of the truck and careened dangerously close to the road’s edge — sending Vicksburg police and Warren County deputies scurrying.

Friday morning’s wreck was the first fatal motor vehicle accident in Vicksburg in 2008. In 2007, seven people died as a result of accidents in Vicksburg and nine following wrecks in Warren County.