Speeding Blamed for Mich. Tanker Explosion
OAK PARK, MI --- Michigan State Police this week issued a speeding ticket to the driver who police said triggered the July 15 fuel tanker explosion that destroyed the Nine Mile bridge across Interstate 75, shut down a stretch of freeway for several days, and caused more than $2 million in damage, the Detroit News reported.
Lt. Shannon Sims of the Michigan State Police Metro North Post told the newspaper that Saied Haidarian Shahri of Clawson was issued a citation for violation of the basic speed law in the incident. He has 14 days to respond in court.
"He can plead guilty and pay a fine to be determined by the court, or not guilty and request a hearing," Sims said.
The penalty, a civil infraction, also would add two points on Shahri's driving record.
Shahri is a Wayne State University graduate student driving on a new license. He apparently took a curve too fast, police said, and collided with a tanker carrying more than 13,000 gallons of diesel fuel and gasoline. The collision triggered a fire that brought down the Nine Mile overpass and blocked a commuting artery into downtown, according to a state police investigation.
The investigation is now under review by the Oakland County Prosecutor's Office for possible charges.
Investigators said they believe Shahri lost control of his Honda on a curve while heading north on I-75 around 8 p.m. on July 15. Shahri allegedly crossed two lanes of traffic and struck a fuel tanker truck driven by Michael St. John, 44, of Armada, Sims said.
Shahri has denied responsibility for causing the crash. Both drivers and the driver of a second truck, which later caught fire in the crash, all escaped with only minor injuries. But the tanker explosion melted a portion of the Nine Mile bridge and closed I-75 between I-696 and Eight Mile for four days, inconveniencing more than 130,000 motorists who travel the route under the bridge daily, the Detroit News reported.