Sulfuric acid spills throughout area resulted in bicyclist suffering serious injuries

September 30, 2018

The numerous sulfuric acid spills from Soda Springs to Pocatello on Thursday evening left one person seriously injured.

The hazardous liquid spilled by a leaking lawn service truck caused Rob Ashley, 48, of Pocatello, to lose control of his bicycle as he was riding with several of his friends on Bannock Highway in south Pocatello. The sulfuric acid spilled on Bannock Highway created very slick road conditions and Ashley’s bicycle slid out from under him when he hit the liquid.

He suffered a broken hip and road rash in the crash and was transported by private vehicle to Portneuf Medical Center in Pocatello.

Ashley was released from the hospital on Saturday and will be on crutches for the next eight weeks and could have to undergo physical therapy afterward.

The sulfuric acid leaking from the lawn service truck inflicted minor burns on the man driving the truck and the entire incident remains under investigation by Idaho State Police and the state Department of Environmental Quality.

Police advised any motorists who drove through the puddles of sulfuric acid on area roads on Thursday evening to immediately wash their vehicles using a commercial sprayer equipped with soap and water. Sulfuric acid can cause serious burns on people but it can also severely damage cars, especially their tires.

Ashley said that although the liquid acid caused him to crash, he did not suffer any burns from the substance.

Police advised anyone burned by the acid to seek immediate medical attention but no reports of such burns except to the lawn service truck’s driver were received.

Authorities said the lawn service truck began leaking sulfuric acid in Soda Springs and continued doing so as the vehicle traveled on Highway 30 to Lava Hot Springs. The truck stopped at the Sinclair convenience store in Lava Hot Springs, leaving behind a very hazardous puddle of the liquid acid.

The truck continued leaking the acid as it traveled on Highway 30 to McCammon and then onto Old Highway 91 to Inkom and then Pocatello.

The driver, whose name hasn’t yet been released, noticed that his truck was leaking the acid at Old Highway 91 and Fort Hall Mine Road but he continued to travel into Pocatello nonetheless, authorities said.

His route through the city went from Fort Hall Mine Road to Portneuf Road, Bannock Highway, Main Street, Gould Street and then McKinley Avenue.

At this point Pocatello police began receiving reports about the leaking truck and an officer caught up with the vehicle in the 700 block of McKinley around 7:15 p.m. Thursday.

Police said the driver was trying to stop the leak, suffering burns in the process, when approached by the officer.

Police said the driver was not hospitalized for his burns but was treated at a local doctor’s office.

Emergency responders including the Pocatello Fire Department worked overnight to have all of the acid spills cleaned up before the Friday morning rush hour.

It’s estimated that over 60 gallons of sulfuric acid leaked from the truck onto area roads. But police said they doubt if the acid significantly damaged any of the thoroughfares.

Police said their bigger concern was the acid’s potential to injure people and damage vehicles.

Authorities said there were not enough police and firefighters to close down the roads impacted by the acid spills but emergency personnel were stationed on many of the impacted roads warning motorists about the situation.

When asked if there will be any repercussions for the lawn service truck’s driver because of the acid spills, authorities said that would be determined by the ongoing investigation.

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