Marion County Deputy Mike Ottensmeier said both vehicles were heading west on U.S. 56 when the semi, driven by Martin Robinson of Ottawa, began slowing to make a left turn onto Santa Fe Street and Countryside Feed LLC. As that vehicle attempted the turn, the truck, driven by Wesley McGuire of Sioux Falls, S.D., apparently had brake failure, causing it to collide into the back of the semi.
With about 10,000 pounds of molasses sloshing inside the tank, Ottensmeier said the impact of the crash probably caused the tank to burst, resulting in the sugary substance spewing over both lanes of the highway.
The accident happened at about 1:55 p.m., Ottensmeier said. Within minutes, Hillsboro firefighters were at the scene picking up the larger pieces of plastic laying along the shoulder of the road.
By about 2:30 p.m., more firefighters arrived with a pumper truck ready to hose down the road with water and sweep the fluid into the ditch.
Mike Schneider with the Kansas Department of Transportation in Marion was also at the scene to make sure no hazards would result from the spill.
Prior to traffic being stopped at 3 p.m., allowing firefighters time to clean up the sticky liquid, Ottensmeier’s vehicle had a continuous dousing of molasses spray from passing cars and trucks. The molasses was sticky enough, he said, that it was even hard to open his car door.
Robert McGuire is the owner of the molasses tank-truck, which was towed.
The tractor-trailer is owned by New Life of Princeton. Once the accident information was completed, the driver was able to continue to his destination in the industrial park.