OZARK, AR (KFSM) — A tanker truck carrying gasoline overturned and caught fire Wednesday morning near Ozark, blocking the eastbound lanes of I-40 at Exit 35. The driver of the tanker truck was killed, and now police have arrested a suspect they say caused the wreck and fled the scene.
Arkansas State Police (ASP) reports that 59-year-old James Rotenbury of Russellville died in the crash after the Arkansas Department of Transportation initially reported no injuries.
According to the ASP fatality report, a witness at the scene told troopers that an unknown vehicle entered I-40 from the 35-mile marker on-ramp and pulled out in front of the tanker truck Rotenbury was driving. Rotenbury tried to take corrective action and swerved to the left and ran off the roadway. Rotenbury then entered the north side road ditch and tried to steer back into his lane. As a result, the truck overturned on its driver’s side.
ASP started searching for the driver of a black GMC lowrider truck, possibly a GMC Canyon, without tags that they believed was the suspect that left the scene.
43-year-old Douglas Darr of Ozark was arrested Wednesday night after 10:00 p.m. in connection with the crash, according to Lt. Jeremy Bennet with the Franklin County Sheriffs Office. He faces multiple charges, including no proof of insurance, failure to register a vehicle and leaving the scene of an accident involving death or personal injuries. His bond hearing is scheduled for Monday, Dec. 28. ASP is still investigating the crash.
The Franklin County Emergency Management initially recommended sheltering in place at home for residents north of I-40 near Ozark due to dangerous fumes from the accident. That recommendation has since been lifted.
The fire spread across the median, causing both sides of the interstate to be temporarily blocked. The fire is now under control, according to Franklin County Emergency Management.
Smoke from the fire could be seen miles away from the crash.
I-40 at Exit 35 was closed until about 3 p.m., with traffic being diverted through Highway 64 in Ozark.
Keep up with the latest traffic conditions where you live here.
Please note: This content carries a strict local market embargo. If you share the same market as the contributor of this article, you may not use it on any platform.