On Friday, March 11, 2016, about 6:20 a.m., a 2011 Peterbilt truck-tractor in combination with a 1962 North Texas Tank Company, specification MC330, 10,500-gallon cargo tank semitrailer loaded with noncorrosive liquefied petroleum gas, operated by River City Propane, was traveling northbound on US Highway 431, a two-lane undivided highway, near Stroud, Alabama. As it entered a right curve near the intersection of County Route 256, it began to encroach on the southbound lane, which was occupied by a 2004 Pontiac sport utility vehicle. The driver of the Pontiac reported that he observed the driver of the Peterbilt make a hard right turn. The cargo tank semitrailer then separated from its truck-tractor, traveled westward into a ditch, and struck a rock. The impact with the rock breached the front head of the cargo tank; as the cargo began to vent, the cargo tank’s entire head became separated, releasing the tank’s contents, which caught fire, and a deflagration occurred.† The cargo tank semitrailer continued to travel westward through about 300 yards of forested area before coming to rest.
The truck-tractor came to rest on the eastern ditch/embankment area and was destroyed. The Peterbilt driver was severely injured as a result of the crash and fire.