UPDATE: I-24 clear after Marion County accident
Tennessee Highway Patrol says a minivan hit a tractor trailer hauling ice cream and caught fire. The van plowed into the back of the tractor trailer just past exit 155.
"As he merges off into the emergency lane the vehicles are still hung together. He was actually dragging the van at this time," says THP Trooper Steven Bourque.
Trooper Steven Bourque rolled up just after the accident happened, as the fire started. His first concern was getting the driver of the van out.
"He had some bruising on his hand and scrapes from where the airbag kind of hit him in the face."
The driver was was okay. Bourque then tried knocking down the flames with a fire extinguisher from his car.
"We bought enough seconds where the truck driver was able to put down his trailer and he was able to separate the tractor from the trailer and at least save a $100,000 tractor."
It was then he asked the truck driver what he was hauling.
"It was basically loaded with about 40,000 pounds of ice cream," says Bourque. "I knew that was going to create some unique adventures as far as clean up."
A soupy mess of vanilla ice cream spilled onto the road as firefighters tried their best to knock down the flames.
"You think, 'Well it's ice cream.' But all the cardboard and the fuel and the car, it got to be a real intense, hot fire."
More than four hours later, after putting out the fire and hosing down the road, traffic was flowing again. In his 13 years as a trooper, it is a call Bourque will not soon forget.
"Not ice cream. I've worked candy and chickens and hanging beef. A little bit of everything here, but first time on an ice cream truck," says Bourque.
Laughs aside, he wants the takeaway to be 'safety first,' saying a seatbelt made a big difference for the driver of the van.
"Airbags and the seatbelt were very important. That's probably what saved him. Because it pushed...the rear bumper of that transfer was all the way up into the windshield of the truck," says Bourque.
Crews will still have to come out and clean up the rest of the mess on the side of the road. As for the driver of the minivan, he can still be cited for following too closely.