MOUNDSVILLE, W.Va. — Bypassing signs prohibiting pumping from the Ohio River, a water truck spent two hours underwater before authorities were alerted to the submerged vehicle.
According to Moundsville Fire Chief Noel Clarke, the truck operated by Confluence, Pa.-based contractor The U Company, was reportedly on the ramp of the 13th Street boat launch around 7:30 a.m., when an error occurred with the vehicle’s brakes, causing the truck to roll backward into the Ohio River, where it remained until a passerby alerted authorities around 9:40 a.m.
The truck was extracted from the river by noon, although authorities remained at the scene for some time. The driver was uninjured.
“They didn’t contact anybody, so it was just sort of noticed by a passerby who notified law enforcement,” Clarke said. “They were going to pump water out of the river, and there was obviously some kind of error with the brakes. Whether it was human or mechanical error, we don’t know for sure.”
The truck was estimated to hold up to 100 gallons of diesel fuel, and the state Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Environmental Protection were both called to the scene to investigate any potential spillage.
The truck’s brakes locked after going over the ledge, which ended in a straight drop-off due to erosion at the end of the ramp.
Middle Creek Towing had to bring in two trucks to haul the vehicle free.
Clarke said the ramp prohibits use by commercial vehicles, specifically including water trucks. No citations were issued at the scene, but law enforcement is reviewing its options.
The U Company representatives at the scene declined to comment.