The driver of a tanker who crashed into a light pole and triggered a hazardous materials emergency that shut down a busy retail strip in Niagara County for almost a full day Tuesday has been issued a traffic ticket, according to police.
Carl D. Wolfe, 63, of Thamesville, Ont., was ticketed for not following lane markings in the Wegmans parking lot on Military Road in the Town of Niagara, town Police Chief H. James Suitor said.
Authorities evacuated four homes and ordered residents on a half dozen streets nearby to stay inside because the accident caused refrigerated hydrogen to leak from the tanker.
Suitor attributed what happened to "driver error," adding it was "absolutely an unfortunate accident."
Air Products and Chemicals, the company hauling the refrigerated hydrogen, is asking businesses that experienced financial losses because of the nearly daylong shutdown of the immediate area to submit claims to its insurance company.
The Town of Niagara has posted information for how to submit a claim to Air Products' insurance company on its website.
Monday night's crash triggered a state of emergency, the evacuation and closure of nearby businesses, including the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls, and a shelter-in-place order as emergency responders worked to plug the leak in the tanker and safely move the flammable material into another tanker.
Wolfe, who was hauling the material from Canada to an unspecified location in the United States, was attempting to turn his vehicle around in the store parking lot when he hit the light pole, Suitor said. The crash caused a pipe on the tanker to break, which allowed the substance to leak into the atmosphere.
Residents within a 1,500-foot radius of the scene were advised to shelter in place for roughly seven hours on Tuesday. Niagara Falls International Airport also was shut down as a precaution. Military Road was closed between Niagara Falls Boulevard and Third Avenue.
Wolfe was cutting across driving lanes in the parking lot, which is why he was ticketed for the lane violation, the chief said. The citation is a moving violation and may result in a monetary fine and points on the driver's license, he said.
Air Products, whose corporate headquarters is in Allentown, Pa., flew in representatives to assist with the situation, Suitor said.
"The company could not have been better in their response," the chief said. Other area companies and organizations, including Praxair, also helped emergency responders deal with the situation, he said.
Wolfe is scheduled to appear in Town of Niagara Court on Nov. 13.
A spokeswoman for the Fashion Outlets declined to provide an estimate for the mall's financial losses from being forced to close on Tuesday.