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Fatal Traffic Crash - Highway 20E east of Brothers
05/13/2010
Sergeant Eric Brown
Oregon State Police - Bend
(541) 388-6213

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Oregon State Police (OSP) troopers, with the assistance of Deschutes County Sheriff's Office, are continuing the investigation into Wednesday afternoon's single fatality crash on Highway 20E about ten miles east of Brothers involving a commercial tanker truck pulling a single tanker trailer. An estimated 11,000 gallons of petroleum-based products caught fire after the vehicles rolled along the side of the highway, completely destroying the vehicles and closing the highway about six hours. The victim has been identified as a La Grande-area man.
 
On May 12, 2010 at approximately 4:15 p.m. a tanker truck pulling a tanker trailer was traveling eastbound on Highway 20E near milepost 51. A witness told OSP troopers that the tanker truck passed by the truck moments prior to the crash when it drifted off the highway onto the soft shoulder, lost control and rolled multiple times.
 
The driver, identified as JOSEPH A. VENUTOLO, age 58, from La Grande, was probably ejected from the truck and deceased at the scene. Next of kin notification was completed Thursday morning.
 
The tanker truck, transporting nearly 6000 gallons of diesel, and the tanker trailer with about 5000 gallons of gasoline caught fire and burned down to the frame. VENUTOLO was driving for Oregon Trail Transport from La Grande.
 
Highway 20E was closed until approximately 10:00 p.m. The fire was limited to the general area around the crash scene.
 
DEQ and hazardous material crews are at the scene Thursday continuing with the clean up work. Traffic is limited to one lane.
 
Agencies responding to the incident included OSP troopers from the Bend Area Command office, Deschutes County Sheriff's Office, Bend Fire Department, and ODOT.