Bulldozer tumbles 150 feet onto highway
August 16, 2004
Driver dives off, no vehicles hit
By William Ferchland
Tribune staff writer
A bulldozer clearing a fire trail on top of Cave Rock fell Monday afternoon after a reported loading malfunction, blocking eastbound traffic on Highway 50 with its crumpled remains.
The driver, John Heizer, escaped from the 12-ton machine and avoided major injuries except some scrapes and a sore backside.
“It started to roll back,” Heizer, who estimated the tractor fell 150 feet, said. “There was only one thing I could do: eject.”
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The explosives contractor, who spent time in the Air Force, used his military instincts to avoid danger.
“Don’t hesitate in the line of fire,” he said.
South Lake Tahoe resident Shauna Trim, 26, was one of the first on scene. Trim, who was in a 1990 Toyota 4-Runner with her husband and baby while driving back from a shopping trip in Carson City, said a cloud of smoke and dirt met her while in the Cave Rock tunnel.
“When we were coming out we slammed on the brakes and we could see the tractor right there,” Trim said.
The machine lost a wheel and was smoking, she said.
“It looked like it might explode,” Trim said.
A flatbed truck was summoned from Carson City to help remove the damaged dozer.
This was the second large construction accident in the area in five days. On Thursday, a drilling rig slipped and crashed into a house after pavement caved under it near Zephyr Cove. The removal of the rig on Friday closed Highway 50 for 15 hours. No one was injured.
Heizer thanked the authorities involved for helping to steer traffic and take control of Monday’s accident. The eastbound lane of the highway was closed for about two hours.
“Unfortunately it happened and thank God nobody got hurt,” he said.
– E-mail William Ferchland at email@example.com