A 911 call around 6:30 a.m. Saturday reporting a semi off the road and the driver possibly trapped inside, led to one eastbound lane of I-70 being closed for several hours as work crews cleaned up a fuel spill.
When members of the Clay County Sheriff's Department and Jackson Township Volunteer Fire Department arrived on the scene, Ronnie L. Combs, 49, of Ohio, had already kicked out a window to free himself from the 2000 Peterbilt semi at the bottom of a steep ravine on the left side of the highway.
He refused medical treatment at the scene.
"He really went on what appears to have been a wild ride," Deputy Jon Lambert told The Brazil Times Sunday afternoon in a telephone interview. "He told us he was wearing his seat belt during the accident. He's very lucky."
Combs had been eating a bag of pretzels and reached down to get a drink when the truck went off to the left side of the road. Once the tires got off the road and onto the soft ground he was unable to regain control of the truck and went straight down the steep embankment.
The truck sheared the limbs off several trees on the way down and ruptured the gas tank.
At least 300 gallons of diesel fuel was spilled on the ground in the median.
Officials closed the left, eastbound lane of the highway to traffic during investigation into the accident, while leaving the other lane open for slow moving traffic.
Members of the Curtis Wrecker Service had to use chainsaws to clear away trees and limbs before the truck could be removed from the median.
An Indiana Department of Transportation hazardous materials spill team was dispatched to the scene to clean the fuel from the area while state highway personnel placed signs on the road and assisted law enforcement with traffic control until the roadway was reopened shortly before 1 p.m.