Highway Spills Can Threaten Your Pasta Night

Image of I-55 covered in Alfredo sauce spill after truck crash

Not to be Jay Leno about it, but this week’s national headlines offered all the necessary setup for food writers everywhere. When was the last time you read a sentence like this in The New York Times?

Fist-sized tomatoes covered the eastbound lanes of the freeway for about 200 feet, creating a red mass that appeared to be about “two feet deep,” Officer Tyhurst said. He added that he was not being hyperbolic about depth.

It’s from a story about a traffic accident involving a produce truck in California. On its own, that’s enough of a gripping story. But here’s the thing: Within 36 hours of the tomato incident, a Tennessee truck dumped its own cargo – a whole lot of Alfredo sauce.

California tomato spill

The New York Times reports that around 5 a.m. Monday morning on I-80 in Vacaville, Calif., a truck carrying approximately 50,000 pounds of tomatoes collided with a car on the road, swerved, hit another car in the process, then hit the center median of the freeway. This whole movement spilled about 150,000 tomatoes from the truck onto the road – and these tomatoes, in turn, caused an accident involving seven different vehicles.

Fortunately, the worst injury reported by the NYT is someone was hospitalized with a broken leg; three other people reportedly had only minor injuries. Considering California Highway Patrol Officer Jason Tyhurst describes the smooth tomato skins as “like walking on ice,” it’s a wonder there were no other injuries.

Roads were closed most of the day, until about 3 p.m. the rest of the dangerous tomato porridge.

Alfredo spill in Tennessee

“You can smell it!” tweeted Kate Bieri of FOX13 Memphis. While local Memphis CBS affiliate KION-TV reported that police initially did not confirm exactly the type of substance that spilled from a wrecked truck onto I-55 on Tuesday afternoon, reporters at the scene were able to confirm that the spill was due to very many pots of Alfredo sauce broken.

The 18 wheeler transporting the sauce hit a retaining walland judging by the photos of the accident, the impact seems ripped open the side of the trailer like a can of tuna (see photo above). While there is no NYTAt the level of descriptions of the depth of the sauce on the pavement, it is at least thick enough so that tire marks and footprints are visible as on packed snow.

As with the California tomato spill, only non-critical injuries resulted from the accident. Crews worked late into the night to clean up the spill; at 10:45 p.m. Tuesday, not everything was cleaned up yet. Presumably there is a lot of broken glass posing a risk here too, in addition to the slippery sauce itself.

If you need dinner in a pinch tonight, try make your own tomato sauce Where Alfred sauce. We promise you, homemade is always worth it.