Tractor-trailer rolls after hitting bridge

By Dave Hill
The Tonawanda News

A 45-year-old Erie, Pa., man rolled his tractor trailer Thursday morning after striking the CSX railroad overpass on Young Street in the City of Tonawanda.

The accident, which was captured on the surveillance video of a nearby business, happened at about 8:30 a.m. and closed a portion of Young Street for much of the day while police and fire crews handled the scene.

“This happens every now and then, but in this case, it looks like the driver whacked it really hard,” Tonawanda Fire Chief Charles Stuart said.

No serious injuries were reported. The truck driver, Nykelson Dobruk, was hauling 40,000 pounds of fabric to International Fiber in North Tonawanda, but got lost, police said.

Authorities said Dobruk, an independent trucker, was heading south on Young Street while glancing at a map when he slammed his rig into the overpass.

The tractor became wedged under the railroad bridge and rolled onto its side, causing the trailer to shear off a National Grid power pole and narrowly miss smashing a car parked on the street.

The crash also took out several power lines on the overpass, prompting CSX to stop train traffic until National Grid crews could clear the obstructing wires.

Fire crews cleaned up some fuel and non-hazardous material from a transformer on the pole that was sheared. “With the exception of the fuel, there was a National Grid transformer that was leaking fluid but it was non-PCB,” firefighter Mike Hartman said at the scene.

The city posted three signs indicating the bridge’s height limit of 11 feet, 6 inches, said Tonawanda Police Lt. Fredric Foels, who is a member of the city’s traffic and safety advisory board.

It also painted a fluorescent orange strip on the bottom of the bridge, hoping that would also alert truckers to be careful.

“It seems like every year this bridge is getting smacked a couple times a year,” Foels said. “You get truckers that are lost, they get turned around and don’t know where to go.”

“The thing that was significant about this is that he was moving along (fast),” the fire chief added. “I don’t think he knew he wasn’t going to make it (under the bridge).”

The fire department first called CSX to make sure no trains were coming through. Fire crews also had to disconnect the truck’s batteries and assist with emptying the rig’s contents.

Several passers-by called 911 around the time of the accident to report what sounded like “a big explosion,” authorities said.

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