Flipped Truck Driver Escapes Injury

Workers cut open the drum of a downed cement truck on Monday in order to empty the barrel and pull the rig upright.
Workers cut open the drum of a downed cement truck on Monday in order to empty the barrel and pull the rig upright.

A cement truck carrying about 17 tons of concrete for a residential job tipped over and spilled some its contents as the driver attempted to make a turn onto a steeply sloping street Monday, June 17, police said.

The veteran driver for Irvine’s Gary Bale Ready Mix escaped the rig’s cab without serious injury other than the pain of impact, Sgt. Louis Callus said. The spill occurred in the 600 block of Bluebird Canyon Drive as the driver realized he needed a wider approach to make the ascending turn onto Summit Road, also a steep grade, she said.

The incident was the third in a decade in Laguna involving a cement truck, according to Public Works Director Steve May. Two other runaway truck accidents occurred within five days of each other in 2003 at the bottom of a notorious Nyes Place straightaway; one rig lost its brakes and rammed a house and the other driver lost control and drove off the road, injuring the driver, May said.

Even so, he said, Laguna’s municipal code only specifically restricts trucks of five tons or more from two streets, both with 30 percent grades: downtown’s Third Street and Upland Street. Despite the prohibition, commercial drivers unfamiliar with Laguna’s streets frequently enough get stuck trying to ascend hilly streets.

Apparently familiarity wasn’t an issue in Monday’s incident. “We know where the restrictions are,” said a supervisor at Gary Bale, who declined to identify himself. The full colored-concrete load of nine yards was destined for a job underway in the 1000 block of Flamingo Road, he said.

Emerald Bay and Three Arch Bay gated communities restrict drivers to smaller loads of eight and seven yards, respectively, he said, as a precaution against spills. On hilly streets, if a truck is forced to restart after stopping, it jerks and the load shifts and spills, he explained.

On Monday, in order for a tow truck to right the fallen rig, the less than year old flame-painted drum was cut open with a torch to remove the concrete, said Tom Praisler, owner of Laguna Beach’s Praisler Hauling and Demolition, whose crew helped extract the concrete that began to set before the task was done.

“Those are well-known for not being easy trucks to drive,” said Praisler. The driver of the disabled truck, who remained at the scene, told him he had slowed for a passing car.


Photo by Edgar Obrand


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