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Tanker truck rolls into the Deer Creek Reservoir

A propane tanker rolled into the Deer Creek Reservoir on Tuesday, May 28, 2019. (Credit: Curtis Hendrickson)

A tanker truck rolled into Deer Creek Reservoir, spilling butane into the water.

The crash has closed Highway 189 in Provo Canyon. The Utah Highway Patrol has said the road will be alternately reopened and closed throughout the day.

Workers with ServProp in Lindon were on the way back from a job in Orem when they witnessed the crash. They saw the accident happen while driving by in their work truck.

Jesus Torres says they were coming around the first turn from the north when they saw the tanker burst through the guardrail. Torres says the other workers were “freaking out” when they witnessed the tanker rolling into the reservoir. He hit the brakes and jumped out of his truck to help out on the scene. He and two other witnesses ran to the truck to see if they could assist the driver. Another witness called 911.

Even though the cab was completely submerged, the driver was able to extricate himself.

“We saw him come out. Luckily, he was okay. Not a scratch on him, just wet,” Torres says.

The ServProp workers offered the tanker driver a blanket and dry clothes.

It wasn’t immediately clear to Torres how the tanker ended up rolling into the water.

“Yeah, we asked him what happened,” Torres says. “And he was the one who said he was just coming too fast through the turn.”

Torres says it’s a popular place to sightsee and that it was lucky no one was there on the shore of the reservoir when the accident happened.

“It could have been real ugly,” Torres says.

The cleanup of the butane from the tanker will be a delicate process. Butane is a gas at room temperature. It can be used for gasoline blending, alone or in a mixture with propane, or as a fuel gas, among other uses. Very pure forms of butane can even be used as a refrigerant.

Exposure to very small amounts of butane is not thought to be harmful to humans — in fact, it is a very common camping stove fuel. However, inhaling butane in high concentrations can be intoxicating and can lead to death.