A local man is recovering after an accident in St. Maries caused one driver serious injuries – and created a potentially explosive situation.
According to the St. Maries Fire Protection District and Benewah County Sheriff’s Office, 911 dispatchers received a call at approximately 7:30 p.m. July 25 in St. Maries. Reports said that a vehicle had gone off the road in an elevated alley behind Napa Auto Parts and careened down an embankment.
Sheriff Dave Resser later identified the driver as John A. Martinez of St. Maries. The vehicle sustained serious damage in the crash, and Mr. Martinez was injured.
Complicating the matter, the vehicle struck a propane gas tank behind the auto store. A pair of fittings on top of the tank was sheared off by the impact, causing the entirety of the gas inside to be rapidly released into the area.
“It was, I believe, a 250-gallon tank that fully bled out, so as a precaution we cordoned off the area and contacted the propane company in the area to come in and advise,” Josh Masterson of the St. Maries Fire Protection District said.
The area was cordoned off for some time as emergency responders allowed the gas to clear before moving in to tend to the accident.
Mr. Martinez was extracted from the vehicle.
He was taken by ambulance to Benewah Community Hospital, then by Life Flight to Kootenai Health for treatment.
He has since been released from the hospital, and is now recovering in St. Maries at the home of another resident.