A semi driver hauling 55,000 pounds of produce can count himself lucky after he drove off Interstate 40, down a median embankment and onto busy Butler Avenue Friday.
No injuries were reported in the crash, which luckily did not involve any vehicles on Butler.
But drivers trying to travel on East Butler Avenue throughout Friday afternoon likely did not count themselves lucky.
The truck blocked all six lanes at about noon and left traffic moving at a crawl even after emergency responders eventually opened one lane in each direction.
According to Sgt. Gary Phelps of the Arizona Department of Public Safety, two semi trucks were driving eastbound side-by-side on Interstate 40 when the truck in the fast lane sideswiped the other truck.
Authorities said they believe the truck in the fast lane then overcorrected and went off the center median and down the embankment near the Butler Avenue overpass.
The truck's front end and tires were mangled and the trailer severely damaged, which made it tough for a tow truck driver to remove the massive vehicle. The other truck was not severely damaged and pulled over to the side of the interstate.
One lane of I-40 eastbound traffic was temporarily closed.
The accident also snarled traffic on South Milton Road and East Route 66 as motorists were rerouted away from Butler Avenue. Freeway traffic getting off at Butler was rerouted back onto the freeway to other exits.
Emergency responders from several agencies remained at the scene throughout the afternoon. Even though no injuries were reported, Flagstaff Fire Department firefighters stayed to monitor an oil and fuel spill.
Officials weren't clear on the fate of all the produce -- lettuce and tomatoes -- on board the truck. They did say there are specific rules pertaining to food involved in crashes -- typically, it must be thrown away.
Eric Betz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 556-2250.