By Mike Wallace
AMITY – An 18-wheeler hauling chicken products failed to negotiate the counter-clockwise traffic lanes around the square in the Clark County town of Amity the night of Wednesday, Dec. 5, and effectively destroyed it.
Amity Police Chief Garry B. Johns stated on Thursday morning that the big rig was traveling west on Highway 8 and entered the town square at approximately 45 miles per hour in the 30-mph zone. Chief Johns said that speed estimate came from Arkansas State Trooper Sammy Hart of Troop K in Hot Springs.
The entire incident was caught by surveillance cameras located near the Amity City Hall.
The accident occurred at 11:15 p.m. on Wednesday, and was finally cleared up about four hours later around 3 a.m. on Dec. 6.
The driver of the involved 18-wheeler was Paul Toney, Sr., 54, of Baltimore, Md. He was headed from Little Rock to De Queen delivering chicken products for Pilgrim.
Toney came south on I-30, turned onto Highway 8, came through Alpine and into Amity.
The speed limit just east of Amity is 35 mph at that point and reduces down to 30 mph in town.
Chief Johns stated that Toney offered three scenarios as to the cause of the wreck:
One – he fell asleep. Two – he felt if he tried to turn to his right as the signs showed, the trailer might have turned over. And Three – since he could not turn – he decided to go straight through the yield sign and hit the rock-wall circle in the middle of the Amity Square.
The video taken of the accident showed that Toney made no effort to brake before hitting the rock wall. The 18-wheeler went completely into the circle, which had been decorated for the holidays, before coming to a stop.
Chief Johns said the semi was hauled away by Beene Towing and Recovery to Arkadelphia.
Also responding to the scene were the Amity Fire and Rescue responders, who aided in traffic control after checking Toney’s condition. The Guardian Ambulance service responded as did the Clark County Office of Emergency Management.
Toney was ticketed for misdemeanor careless and prohibited driving.
Chief Johns concluded that the Christmas decorated square sustained heavy damage. “It will take some time to repair as (Highway Department) engineers will be involved as it is also Highway 8.”