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CHP releases details of big rig river incident

When a big rig went into the Feather River on July 24 it closed Highway 70 for a time and forced the cancellation of the weekend’s recreational whitewater releases. The California Highway Patrol report issued this morning, July 27, fills in some of the details of what happened.

On Friday, July 24, at 4:05 p.m., Jesus Tamariz, 48, of Ceres was driving a 2018 Freightliner, pulling a 2005 box trailer loaded with empty pallets, westbound on State Route 70, just east of the Tobin Bridge.

Tamariz was traversing a left curve in the roadway and allowed the right-side tires of the Freightliner to drive on the north shoulder. He made an unsafe turn to the left and caused the Freightliner to lose traction. The Freightliner continued to drive across both lanes of Highway 70 and collided into the guardrail, on the south shoulder.

The Freightliner overturned down the steep embankment and landed on several rocks in the Feather River with the cab submerged. The box trailer came to rest on rocks out of the water.

Tamariz and his passenger exited the Freightliner and swam to safety on a rock and waited until Search and Rescue arrived on the scene to rescue them.

At the time of the incident, Tamariz was driving without a Class A (commercial vehicle) endorsement and a suspended motor carrier permit.

During the collision the Freightliner’s fuel tanks ruptured and leaked diesel into the river. Through the efforts of PG&E, CalFire, the Butte County Hazmat response team, Precision Towing and Five Star Towing, the hazardous materials were cleaned up and the Freightliner and trailer removed from the river.

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