Tanker Crash Kills 1; Closes Highway on Navajo Nation

Adron Gardner | Navajo Times  – A road block cordons off U.S. Route 191 in Burnside after an accident early Friday morning, Jan. 13, 2017.

Published January 22, 2017

By Arlyssa Becenti and Cindy Yurth

BURNSIDE JUNCTION, ARIZONA  A Blue Gap, Arizona man was killed Thursday night in an accident that caused a diesel spill and closed U.S. 191 between Burnside and Chinle for nearly 15 hours.

According to a report by the Arizona Department of Public Safety, Benton Fatt, 53, of Blue Gap was northbound at Milepost 429.7 at 10:42 p.m. when the pickup truck he was driving veered across the center line and struck a southbound semi truck driven by Delano Besselente, 29, of Zuni, New Mexico.

Fatt was pronounced dead at the scene. Besselente was transported to University of New Mexico Hospital. The extent of his injuries was not released.

Steve Elliot, Arizona Department of Transportation, said they had closed the road from Burnside Junction to the Piñon turn-off at 10:45 p.m. Thursday night. The road finally reopened at approximately 2:15 p.m. Friday.

“Approximately 150 to 200 gallons of diesel spilled from the commercial vehicle’s fuel tanks,” said Elliot.

Because of this, another “tanker” had to remove 8,000 gallons of gasoline from the commercial vehicle that was involved in the accident. This, Elliot said took quite a bit of time.

The contractor was approved by ADOT and will clean up any fuel that had spilled; they will also coordinate with Navajo Environmental Protection Agency on requirements to make sure that any fuel spilled in the soil will be remediated.

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in the Navajo Times. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

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