Truck wrecks at bottom of dam hill


Scott Hunter

A semi tractor pulling double trailers full of cement lays on its side downhill from the Visitor Center at Grand Coulee Dam.

A semi loaded with cement crashed at the bottom of the hill below Grand Coulee Dam on highway 155 Wednesday morning.

The big rig pulling double tanker trailers, reportedly full of cement (the dry powder, not the mixed concrete) was headed north down the steep hill alongside the dam when it left the road to the right just below the Visitor Center, just as it entered the town of Coulee Dam.

It overturned about 100 feet or less off the roadway after crossing the lawn and missing trees and power poles. It stopped on the other side of the Left Powerhouse Access Road. The 2006 Freightliner tractor lay on its side along with the first trailer, which also turned over. The second trailer detached remained but upright and stopped another 100 feet further toward the river.

The driver, Darwin Newport, 51, of Wellpinit, Wash., was taken to Coulee Medical Center with injuries, was treated and released.

A witness at the scene said the driver seemed OK, but scraped and bruised.

The accident happened just before 9 a.m.

The WSP report says the rig rolled before coming to rest on its side. It lists the cause as defective equipment, and estimates that the truck was a total loss. Charges are pending.

At the scene, it appeared that the driver had lost brakes on the steep hill and chosen to leave the roadway where it might do the least damage.

A witness reported hearing the truck descend the hill with its engine compression brake engaged all the way down.

Coulee Medical Center ER and Walk-In Care

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