Earnest Wayne Johnson, 43, of Joplin, Mo., was seriously injured Aug. 27 when he lost control of his 1998 Freightliner tractor one-half mile north of Strawberry River on Highway 67.
According to TFC Wendell Jines with Arkansas State Police, Johnson was southbound when he lost control of his truck on a sharp curve near Tommy Bolt's residence just north of Evening Shade. The truck left the road, overturning at least once and ejecting Johnson from the vehicle. He was transported to White River Medical Center in Batesville and later to UAMS in Little Rock where he is listed in serious condition.
The 5,000-gallon tank Johnson was transporting was loaded with sulfuric acid. The tank broke away from the truck and also overturned at least once. The acid poured out of a small opening at the top of the tank, creating a hazardous situation that required responses from Hazmat teams from Batesville and Memphis.
The crews arrived late the afternoon of the accident and transferred the remaining acid into another tank to be removed from the site.
Bulldozers and backhoes were brought in and removed several truckloads of the contaminated soil from the field on Bolt's farm where it came to rest. It took the teams three days to complete the cleanup.
Sulfuric acid is a corrosive, oily, colorless liquid. When sulfuric acid is mixed with water it can generate extensive heat, creating steam that can cause an explosion if it is contained.
The concentrated acid destroys skin and flesh, and can cause blindness.