Sewage truck flips near Bass Lake

January 25, 2013 

A Madera County sewage truck rolled and flipped on its side Friday afternoon on Malum Ridge Road (274), spilling gallons of sludge onto the roadway and down a gutter leading towards Bass Lake.

The truck, driven by 55-year-old Christopher Mosher of Oakhurst, flipped on its side at about 1:15 p.m. Jan. 25 on Road 274, about a half-mile south of Fawn Point Lane, said California Highway Patrol Officer Nicholas Cosentino.

Mosher received minor to moderate injuries -- cuts and bruises -- and was transported to Oakhurst Urgent Care by Sierra Ambulance.

The truck, which had a 1,500 gallon tank for sewage, was a county special districts truck based out of the Bass Lake office, said David Kleist, a county licensed utility worker with the Bass Lake waste water treatment plant.

The Madera County Public Health Department declared the roadway and scene safe for the public, Cosentino said. Signs on site have been posted warning residents of the spill and saturated soil in the area. The county also took samples of the sludge and water in nearby Bass Lake on Friday to determine if the clean-up process needs to change from what is currently underway.

"The sludge (in the tank of the truck that flipped) is the final product of sewage that went through the North Fork treatment plant," Kleist said. "He was headed to Oakhurst to have it processed to remove the water from it."

Several individuals on scene reported that the sewage spill stopped about 100 feet short of Bass Lake. Another county truck was called up to suck up the sewage, Kleist said.

Officer Cosentino said Mosher was travelling northbound on Road 274 towards Oakhurst when he lost control of his truck, tried to correct, and then spilled the load.

Ron Pennington, 65, of North Fork said he saw the truck lose control and flip on its side, and then helped get Mosher out of the truck by cutting his seat belt free with a knife.

"I thought he was dead the way he rolled the truck ... he rolled it at least once for sure," said Pennington. "(The treated sewage) was just gushing and splashing and running out of the truck."

CHP and North Fork U.S. Forest Service officials arrived on scene, along with Sierra Ambulance and firefighters from Station 18 in Cedar Valley, and Bass Lake Cal Fire.

Traffic was restrained to one lane around the tipped truck as they worked to remove it from the roadway.

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