Asbestos truck overturns on Clearview
BY Joe Gould and Kerry Burke
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS
A massive container truck overturned in Queens Sunday, spilling bags of hazardous asbestos across the highway - then the driver climbed out of the rig and fled on foot, cops said.
The tarp-covered 14-wheeler flipped over onto the driver's side as it was exiting the Long Island Expressway just before 2 p.m., witnesses and cops said.
The truck's driver cut the turn to the ramp onto the northbound Clearview Expressway too tightly and tipped, spilling more than a dozen bags onto the highway, cops and witnesses said.
The unidentified driver climbed out of the wreck and fled before Emergency Service and haz-mat units arrived to clean up the loose asbestos, authorities said.
"It's very dangerous when it's airborne," trucker Vinny Chieffo, 50, said of the toxic material. "A truck like that shouldn't be carrying asbestos, not with just a drape over it."
Workers with the Department of Environmental Protection, clad in blue moon suits and gas masks, gathered the debris on the roadway, which was shut down from 73rd Ave. to Northern Blvd. for more than four hours.
One Fire Department official speculated the driver was "illegally dumping." "Why else would the driver run away?" said the official, who did not want his name used.
Update: The driver, identified as Artur Gaska, 39, initially fled but returned and was arrested on a charge of leaving the scene of an accident, the police said.