Bennett was driving a 2001 Freightliner tractor with a tanker trailer attached.

Jae Valley Road is still closed at this time.


The Roanoke County road where a tanker truck carrying embalming fluid crashed Wednesday morning will likely be closed until Thursday.

Nearly 20 homes are evacuated because of the accident. The driver was taken to the hospital with what is believed to be non-life threatening injuries. The accident happened in the Mount Pleasant area at the intersection of Jae Valley Road and Windy Gap Drive.

The evacuated homes are in the 4200 block of Jae Valley Road down to Sun Valley Road. Residents won't be able to return to their homes until the wrecker and tanker have left the scene.

“The hope is to have folks back home this evening, but there is one property where the homeowners will not be allowed to come home because the home was in the direct path of the product,” Roanoke County battalion chief Travis Griffith said.

Police say the tanker, which was carrying around 4,800 gallons of embalming fluid, went through a guard rail and fell 20 to 30 feet down an embankment. The tanker is leaking embalming fluid. Officials are not sure what caused the crash. The tanker had the capacity to carry 8,000 gallons.

The driver managed to crawl out of the tanker. He is not believed to have life-threatening injuries.

"It's carrying embalming fluid which contains both ethanol and formaldehyde which is why we have such a big perimeter around this area. They're afraid that the vapors may cause potential harm," sergeant PJ Pascoe with Roanoke County Police said.

The terrain and slickness of the fluid is making it difficult for crews wearing full protective suits to get to the area. Officials have checked the air quality, and it is OK except in the immediate area of the crash. Crews working the area are report smelling the noxious fumes from the embalming fluid when the wind shifts.

A hazardous materials contractor, W.E.L. Inc., has been called in to help clean up the spill. Crews from the Vinton, Mount Pleasant and Cave Spring stations, Virginia Department of Emergency Management Hazardous Materials crew and the Roanoke Valley Hazardous Material Team are also working to clean up the spill.

Police say those evacuated from their homes have the option to seek shelter at Mount Pleasant Elementary School. At this time, no evacuees have needed the site.

Traffic is closed in both directions beginning about 1.5 miles south of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Drivers should avoid the area and seek alternate routes. It's not known when the road will reopen. However, the cleanup is expected to take most the day.

Here is an updated news release from Roanoke County Fire and Rescue:

It has been difficult for crews with Roanoke County Fire & Rescue and the Roanoke Valley Regional Haz Mat Team to reach the area below the crashed tanker to ascertain exactly how much of the embalming fluid has spilled. The tanker is about 20-30 feet down a steep embankment and among trees and heavily wooded and steep terrain that is now slick making it challenging for crews wearing full protective suits to access that area safely. Officials do know that the tanker is actively leaking. Haz Mat personnel have been checking air quality around the area and found it to be okay everywhere except the immediate area surrounding the truck. Those personnel working very close to the tanker are reporting smelling the noxious fumes when the wind shifts.

A hazardous materials contractor, W.E.L. Inc., has arrived at the site and has begun their work to assist with mitigation of the spill, including containment and clean-up. A heavy-duty wrecker is also on site and will work to recover the tanker.

The 4200 block of Jae Valley Road is expected to be closed off for at least most of the daylight hours today.