FALKVILLE — A tractor-trailer crash Sunday afternoon on Interstate 65 killed a man at the exact spot where another rig crashed through a guardrail three days earlier during an apparent suicide attempt, authorities said.
The truck’s driver, 40-year-old Gregory Kimbrell of Huntsville, died at the scene, Morgan County Coroner Jeff Chunn said.
State troopers said the wreck took place at about 2:30 p.m. near the 319 mile marker, about a mile north of the Lacon exit.
The southbound rig was pulling a flatbed loaded with huge timbers used as logging tracks.
It left the road and went through a gap in the metal guardrail created during Thursday night’s wreck, authorities said.
“He hit those temporary barricades, but they weren’t going to stop anything,” Chunn said.
The rig rolled down a wooded embankment to land upside down near Flint Creek, the cab crushed.
Kimbrell was entrapped in the wreckage. He was semi-conscious when responders arrived but died a short time later, Chunn said.
Morgan County Sheriff Ana Franklin blamed Thursday’s crash on an allegedly suicidal trucker. She said driver Howard Hendrick of Chicago called 911, said he was contemplating suicide, then shot himself in the head with a pellet gun and drove off the road into the ravine. His injuries were minor.
Troopers said they were not aware of any other injuries or vehicles involved in Sunday’s crash. The cause of the wreck was not yet known.
Authorities shut down the southbound lanes of I-65 for a few hours and rerouted traffic onto U.S. 31 via Morgan County 55 at Exit 322 in Falkville and Thompson Road at Exit 325 in Hartselle. Shortly before 5 p.m., traffic was backed up more than two miles north of the Falkville exit and another line of cars extended about a mile north of the Thompson Road exit.
The left southbound lane later reopened, but delays could continue today. State Department of Transportation workers were bringing in heavy machinery to repair the 50-foot gap left in the guardrail, troopers said.
The road underwent intermittent closures Friday and Saturday during cleanup from the previous wreck. Hendrick was hauling a full load of empty beer bottles that spilled and shattered on the road, making it impassible.
Kimbrell worked for Tandem Transport Cooperation of Michigan City, Ind. He was divorced and had no children, Chunn said.
Valhalla Funeral Home in Huntsville will announce arrangements.
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