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DRIVER DIES AS SEMITRAILER EXPLODES

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At least one person was killed Friday night when a semitrailer truck drove off an overpass on I-15 south of Santaquin, hit an embankment and exploded in flames.

Eyewitnesses said the southbound truck began swerving at about 6:20 p.m. before leaving the road about one mile south of Santaquin.The truck took out about 40 feet of guard rail before plunging off the South Santaquin overpass. Witnesses said the truck exploded into a ball of flames upon impact.

Utah Highway Patrol officials said the unidentified driver likely died instantly.

"We don't know why it left the road," said Highway Patrol Sgt. Les Langford. "And we may never know why it left the road."

Officers from the Highway Patrol, the Utah County sheriff's office and Santaquin police closed both lanes of I-15 from Santaquin to Mona for more than an hour while the truck burned. Hazardous-materials workers kept traffic about three miles from the scene because they feared the truck was carrying toxic material.

However, when the fire subsided, fire officials inspected the wreckage and determined the truck was carrying a shipment of denims, electrical equipment and furniture.

The truck was registered to Equipment Sales Inc. of Salt Lake City. Because the truck was reduced to little more than a pile of ashes, police are unsure if there were any passengers. Two hours after the accident, investigators were still sifting through the rubble trying to locate the driver.

"We'll be going through the wreckage for several hours," said Utah County sheriff's department spokesman Ron Fernstedt.

Officials said it may be several days before the state medical examiner is able to identify the driver.