Hwy. 97 crash spills beehive load; crews let it 'bee'

Plan to pick up spilled load after dark when they calm down

MADRAS, Ore. - A California truck driver was unhurt Saturday night when he swerved to avoid an animal in the road and his rig overturned along Highway 97 north of Madras. But it's the animals he was transporting – a load of occupied beehive boxes – that prompted extra caution by first responders, who decided it was best to just let them "bee" for a while.

Martin Garcia, 52, was at the wheel of the 1999 Freightliner pulling a flatbed trailer loaded with beehive boxes that crashed around 8:35 p.m. while heading north about 16 miles north of Madras, said Oregon State Police Trooper Matt Gordon.

The truck was going about 50 mph when Garcia said he swerved to miss an animal in the road, Gordon said. The truck's tires left the paved roadway and soft shoulder, and Garcia lost control, causing the rig to roll onto its side, blocking the right northbound lane and shoulder, the trooper said.

Garcia, who was unhurt, was cited for failing to maintain a lane of travel, Gordon said.

OSP, ODOT and a local tow company responded to the scene. Gordon said that as they tried to turn the truck upright, a small fire broke out due to a possible electrical problem, and it was put out by ODOT crews.

"ODOT and the tow company felt the best course of action was to remove the truck and trailer and leave the beehive load off the side of the highway for later retrieval," according to OSP, who said that was expected to be done Sunday night, after it gets dark and they are more dormant.

The truck reportedly was en route from Fresno, Calif., to fruit orchards in the Columbia River Gorge and Yakima Valley.

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