Jean Nicolas crashed a tanker owned by MGM Transport as he was leaving Port Everglades on the night of March 2, sources say. The fully-loaded tanker spilled nearly 9,000 gallons of fuel in front of a storage facility near Terminal 18. The exact cause of the accident is still unclear.
After the tanker rolled over, Nicolas, who was trapped in the cabin, managed to get out by breaking the back window and crawling to safety. He did not suffer any serious injuries, but was taken to Broward Health Medical Center for treatment of some bruises and cuts.
According to the Florida Division of Emergency Management, the tanker was holding 6,700 gallons of gasoline and 2,100 gallons of diesel when it left the port. It is not known where the tanker was supposed to deliver the fuel. Additional details about Jean Nicolas, including how long he has been driving for MGM transport, are not currently available. Thus far he does not appear to have spoken to the press.
The crash caused the vehicle to roll over and left it upside down. In that position, the opening at the top of the tanker leaked a large volume of fuel. Some of the fuel reportedly made its way into a storm drain and the coastal waterway. Ellen Kennedy, a Port Everglades spokeswoman, confirmed to news sources that the fuel did go into the water, but authorities don’t know how much. She said the spill is contained and is being cleaned up.
The crash occurred near a fire station. Reports say more than 50 fire rescue workers responded to the scene, including the U.S. Coast Guard, Broward Fire Rescue, Broward Sheriff’s Office, and fire rescue crews from Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale.
Rescue crews used fire-retardant foam to blanket the spill and keep it from igniting. They then shored up the tanker and cut holes in it to remove any fuel leftover after the spill. Despite their efforts, a lot of the fuel still seeped into the asphalt and some of it went down a storm drain across the street, potentially contaminating the area’s soil and water.
The Coast Guard reportedly put a boom in the water to keep the fuel from spreading further into the sea. Wildlife officials are also out on the water moving large sea animals like manatees and sea turtles out of the area as the water cleanup continues. So far, the region’s wildlife doesn’t appear to have been affected.
Port Everglades remained open and operations have not been affected in any of the terminals except for Terminal 18, where the crash occurred. The Celebrity Equinox, which was supposed to dock at the terminal, was instead sent to Terminal 25.
The Florida Division of Emergency Management is still investigating the cause of the crash. Thus far, there is no evidence that drugs, alcohol, or negligence were involved. It is likewise unknown whether a defect or issue with the tanker itself could have played a role in the accident.