Truck crash in Death Valley spilled liquid asphalt

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NPS photo: Emulsified asphalt released from a crashed tractor trailer in Mud Canyon.

Truck crash in Death Valley spilled liquid asphalt 

DEATH VALLEY, Calif. – A tractor trailer crashed in Death Valley National Park on July 17, releasing emulsified asphalt. Commercial trucks are prohibited on Mud Canyon Road, partially due to the steep grades.

The truck’s brakes failed while descending from Daylight Pass. The driver downshifted but was unable to stop the truck. It crashed on the shoulder of Mud Canyon Road, about 2 ½ miles east of North Highway.

The driver was uninjured. Park visitors picked him up and drove him to cell phone service to report the accident.

National Park Service (NPS) employees responded to the scene to contain the estimated 5,000 gallons of emulsified asphalt and 150 gallons of diesel released when the truck crashed. The trucking company is cooperating with the NPS to remove the wreck and clean up the site.

Charges are pending.

NPS photo 2023 07 17 emulsified asphalt and miniexcavator on Mud Canyon Road small
NPS photo: A NPS equipment operator digs a trench to contain the emulsified asphalt.

Death Valley National Park is the homeland of the Timbisha Shoshone and preserves natural resources, cultural resources, exceptional wilderness, scenery, and learning experiences within the nation’s largest conserved desert landscape and some of the most extreme climate and topographic conditions on the planet. Learn more at  

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