By Lora Scripps
Four members of a road crew with the Alabama Department of Transportation are recovering from injuries after being struck by an 18-wheeler early Wednesday morning.
The crash occurred at about 4 a.m. on Interstate 65, just north of the Interstate-565 interchange near mile marker 344 in the Tanner community.
ALDOT spokesperson Rebecca Leigh White said the crew was patching potholes in the area when the wreck occurred. Officials said a tractor-trailer hauling lead crashed and hit an ALDOT truck.
She said a motorist had recently contacted state troopers about potholes in the location and that troopers contacted the ALDOT 2nd Division District 4 to get a crew out.
The crew was out early because they had to work while the weather allowed and during non-peak traffic hours, White said.
Limestone County Coroner Mike West said Athens-Limestone EMS, Decatur EMS and first responders treated patients with serious, but non-life threatening injuries at the scene. Three people were transported to Huntsville Hospital and one to Decatur General, he said.
White said the victims included ALDOT highway maintenance superintendent Bobby Smith, 2nd Division District 4 Manager Darnell Spencer and transportation maintenance technicians Mickey Collier and Ronald Fletcher.
According to a Decatur General spokesperson, Smith was treated and released. Spencer was treated at Huntsville Hospital and released. Collier and Fletcher were listed in fair condition in surgical ICU at Huntsville Hospital.
State troopers and a number of local police departments, including Athens Police and the Limestone County Sheriff’s Office, worked approximately 10 hours to clear a scene that brought northbound traffic to a standstill for about five hours. Only one interstate lane remained opened as of Thursday morning.
Troopers are still investigating the cause of the wreck.
White said crews in North Alabama would continue to patch roadways during the winter months due to the recent wet-freeze-thaw conditions that wreak havoc on pavement.
“We are going to have crews on a lot of roadways to do repair work,” she said. “It will go on during the winter months as long as it stays wet. We ask motorists to slow down, be diligent and alert, and drive with caution when they see crews out.”
“All four of the victims and their families are in our thoughts,” she said.