Trucker's death not caused by Interstate 55 accident

Friday, December 8, 2006
Emergency personnel evacuated the driver of a semi that overturned on Interstate 55 south of Fruitland Thursday morning. (Fred Lynch)

The death of a Canadian man involved in a traffic accident Thursday morning on Interstate 55 was not caused by the accident, said Cape Girardeau County Coroner John Clifton.

Tadeusz A. Wasikiewicz, 56, of Burlington, Ontario, was northbound on I-55 near Fruitland when the tractor-trailer he was driving ran off the roadway into a median, crossed southbound lanes and overturned on the southbound shoulder after striking a guard rail at about 8:05 a.m., according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Clifton said Wasikiewicz was airlifted to Saint Francis Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

While an autopsy indicated the man died of causes not related to the accident, Clifton said he was not yet going to release an official cause of death.

No one else was injured in the accident.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol and Cape Gir?ardeau police responded to the accident, which closed the southbound lanes for several hours and snarled traffic during rush hour. A Missouri Department of Transportation representative said one southbound lane was reopened at about 2:30 p.m. but that cleanup of diesel fuel spilled because of the accident meant both lanes probably wouldn't be open before this morning.

Wasikiewicz was hauling a load of 50-pound bags of ear corn in a refrigerated truck, said highway patrol Cpl. Douglas McDaniel.

Chemicals from the refrigeration unit and diesel fuel leaked into the cab and onto the ground, McDaniel said, requiring hours of cleanup by environmental crews.

Crews continued to work on turning the truck over Thursday afternoon, McDaniel said.

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