YONKERS, N.Y. – A quick-thinking oil delivery driver averted disaster by guiding his out-of-control tanker into a tree instead of likely barreling into a home, Yonkers fire officials said Monday.
The Valley Oil Co. tanker was carrying 3,500 gallons of home heating oil when it skidded off an icy road and into the front yard of 8 Byrd Place shortly after 5 p.m., officials said.
The driver decided to guide the truck into a tree instead of continuing down the steep hill where he likely would have crashed through a home at the bottom, Assistant Fire Chief David Dronzek said.
“It was a great decision on his part,” Dronzek said.
As temperatures dropped Monday evening, roads iced over and turned Byrd Place, near Central Park Avenue, into a sheet of ice. The driver, who was not immediately identified, was making deliveries in the neighborhood when he turned a corner and the truck began veering out of control, Dronzek said.
The driver told firefighters he aimed for the tree hoping it would prevent a more serious accident, he said.
“It was quick thinking,” Dronzek said. “Just look at that hill. If had kept going it would have been bad."
The 3,500-gallon tank was not pierced when the truck hit the tree, Dronzek said. As it was, about 50 gallons of home heating oil leaked out a hole underneath the truck.
The smell of fuel filled the hilly street shortly after the accident as crews from the Yonkers Fire Department and Emergency Services Unit blocked off the area with yellow police tape.
Jessica Janeira, who lives in the 8 Byrd Place home and was in the house with her parents and sister when the truck hit the tree, said she heard a “thunderous bang.”
She said she ran out of the house and saw red fuel leaking from the truck and pouring into their front yard.
“We started freaking out,” she said. “We didn’t know if it had hit the house. We panicked and grabbed the dog and called 911.”
By 7 p.m. the truck had been secured. Crews were unloading the tanker before cutting down the tree and towing the truck from the yard.
The driver was a “little banged up” from the crash but would be all right, Dronzek said.