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Semi crashes in Montana river, spilling diesel, toilet paper

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BILLINGS — A semitractor-trailer slid on icy roads and crashed into a guardrail in south-central Montana, causing the cab to go into the river and the load of toilet paper to be strewn across the highway, Red Lodge Fire and Rescue said.

The driver suffered minor injuries in Monday morning’s crash and 100 gallons (379 liters) or less of diesel fuel spilled into the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone River near Belfry, officials said.

The driver lost control of the rig while approaching an S-curve on Montana Highway 72, officials said. The semi hit the end of a bridge guardrail, splitting the cab from the trailer.

The cab went through a barbed-wire fence and traveled halfway across the river, but stayed on its wheels, the Montana Highway Patrol said. The water was just a couple feet deep. Rescuers in dry suits were able to get the driver back to shore.

The trailer and the spilled toilet paper narrowed traffic down to a single lane, the patrol said.

Roads in the area have been icing up on recent mornings, Trooper Andrew Barbera told The Billings Gazette. The driver, who is not from Montana, told investigators he was unaware of the curve in the road.

“It was essentially a solid sheet of ice,” Barbera said Tuesday.

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