ASHLAND, Ore. - (Update: I-5 fully reopened early Monday)
A Michigan truck driver was seriously injured Sunday morning when he lost control of his rig on Interstate 5 south of Ashland and it crashed, rolling onto its side and spilling much of its load of cleaning products, authorities said.
The crash blocked all lanes for a time and one northbound lane for hours, causing a miles-long backup to nearly the California border, they added.
Oregon State Police and other emergency responders were dispatched shortly before 11 a.m. to the rollover crash in the northbound lanes of I-5 near milepost 10, about five miles south of Ashland and about 10 miles north of the border, said OSP Lt. Mike Duncan.
An initial investigation found that truck driver Khadir Tarish Al-Kenani, 47, of Dearborn, Michigan was at the wheel of a northbound 2005 Volvo commercial truck and trailer hauling cleaning supplies when he lost control of the rig and it rolled onto its side, Duncan said. Al-Kenani was flown by Mercy Flights air ambulance to Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford, where he remained in serious condition later Sunday, the trooper said.
Duncan said the investigation is ongoing but that "speed is believed to be a factor in the crash."
The trailer breached in the crash and the load of household cleaning items such as packages of Dawn soap and Swiffer dusters) spilled into the lanes in both directions.
All lanes in both directions were blocked for a short time by the wreckage and debris, and the backup northbound grew from four miles to nearly 10 miles, close to the California border, according to drivers on the scene.
ODOT spokesman Gary Leaming said salvage crews were continuing to off-load the cargo later Sunday, with a single lane of northbound traffic still slowly passing the crash scene. He advised to expect delays through the evening hours until the truck’s wreckage can be removed from the shoulder.
The freeway was fully reopened about 2 a.m. Monday, officials said.