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Driver of overturned trailer who spilled asphalt into Smith River fails to appear in court | Wild Rivers Outpost

Jessica Cejnar Andrews / Yesterday at 3:04 p.m. / Crime, Environment, Roads

Driver of overturned trailer who dumped asphalt in Smith River fails to appear in court

About 2,000 gallons of hot asphalt binder spilled onto US 199 and the Smith River in April after a tractor-trailer collided with a utility pole. | Photo courtesy of Six Rivers National Forest

Klamath Falls truck driver Raoul Payette Jr. did not appear in court in connection with Friday’s incident.


• Tar still leaking into Smith’s River after alleged crash last month, officials confirm

• Klamath Falls man in police custody suspected of hit-and-run following yesterday’s tar spill on US 199


The driver of the tractor-trailer who overturned on US 199 and dumped his load of asphalt binder in the Smith River in April did not appear in court Friday.

A $50,000 arrest warrant has been issued for Raoul Payette Jr., 58, of Klamath Falls, Ore., Del Norte County District Attorney Katherine Micks said. Wild Rivers Outpost. She said her office could file an additional felony charge against Payette for failure to appear if he does not appear within a “reasonable time.”

“Usually people will turn themselves in, or in the future he might be contacted by law enforcement and would be arrested at that point and brought here,” Micks said.

On April 28, Payette was traveling south on US 199 in a 2001 Freightliner that had a damaged tire when its rear trailer hit a utility pole, sending lines onto the roadway around 10:43 a.m. Payette’s trailer hit a then continued south, where its semi-detached and overturned, spilling approximately 2,000 gallons of asphalt material onto the highway near mile marker 10.65 between Hiouchi and Gasquet.

California Highway Patrol officers arrested Payette in Hiouchi around 11:02 a.m., CHP Officer Brandy Gonzalez told the Outpost.

Payette had been incarcerated in the Del Norte County Jail and released on April 28 with a citation requiring him to appear in court on Friday.

Payette faces the following charges: four counts of felony assault with a deadly weapon; two counts of misdemeanor and hit-and-run; deposit hazardous substances in state waters; transporting a loaded firearm in a vehicle on public roads; possessing an unregistered concealed firearm in a vehicle; driving under the influence and driving under the influence with a blood alcohol level over 0.08.

Payette’s blood alcohol concentration was reportedly 0.15% by weight and above, according to the district attorney’s complaint.

The collision ground US 199 for several hours while the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Six Rivers National Forest, Caltrans, CHP, CalOES and the Del Norte Office of Emergency Services assessed the spill. .

Alcon Services, a cleanup contractor, led the cleanup of asphalt binder from the banks of the Smith River near the crash site, CDFW spokesman Eric Laughlin said. Outpost Last week. Tar balls were also reported as far south as Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, but have since been removed, he said.

The Office of Spill Prevention and Response and the Oiled Wildlife Care Network also responded to the spill site to investigate wildlife impacts, Laughlin said. Four dead snakes were recovered, species yet to be determined, he said. No other wildlife or birds were observed to have been affected by the spill.

On Friday, Laughlin said dumping petroleum products of any kind into state waters is a violation of the California Fish and Game Code.

“CDFW is conducting a full investigation into the incident and any potential FC Code violations will be pending the completion of our investigation,” Laughlin told the Outpost by email.

According to a video posted on the California Office of Prevention Spill and Response Facebook page on Friday, cleanup crews made significant progress in removing material from the banks of the Smith River in the past week. Crews are inspecting the area again to see if any more product has accumulated since last week.


• District Attorney Complaint


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