A man at the Royal Farms Gas station on Route 140 near Westminster on Wednesday said he watched a diesel fuel tanker "rip through the gas sign" of the store and "roll into the parking lot."
The vehicle settled on its side — feet away from the store's gas pumps.
"It sounded like thunder," said the witness, who declined to be identified.
State police are continuing to investigate the Dec. 7 accident that sent two people to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma — and caused road closures and the evacuation of several businesses — after the diesel tanker and a passenger vehicle collided near the intersection of Route 140 and Bethel Road.
The witness said immediately after the accident, the Royal Farms was evacuated and the gas pumps were shut off. He said he was hoisted up to the cab of the overturned tanker by another person on the scene to assist the man in the truck.
"That guy could have been dead," the man said.
They found the truck driver, Richard Donald Eckard, 62, of Taneytown, responsive but unable to dislodge his leg. The witness said he helped free Eckard and waited for police to arrive.
State police said shortly after noon troopers, along with members of the Reese and Westminster volunteer fire companies, responded to the scene and found the tanker, partially loaded with 8,000 gallons of fuel, on its side.
Troopers said the tanker, owned by Bosley Oil Inc., of Westminster, was traveling west on Route 140 through the Bethel Road intersection when a Buick passenger vehicle made a left turn onto Route 140.
Police said the tanker was unable to avoid striking the Buick. After the impact, the tanker went off the roadway, down the embankment and into the parking lot of the Royal Farms Store, and turned on its side.
The tanker struck the sign in the parking lot, piercing the front chamber of the fuel tanks, police said. Fuel reportedly spilled into a drainage system to the rear of the Royal Farms Store.
The Buick came to rest in the middle of Route 140 and no other vehicles were involved, said police, who added that the tanker barely missed the active gas and diesel fuel pumps at the store and a propane hauler that was parked in the lot.
Both the driver of the Buick, Carl Frock Jr., 79, of Westminster, and the driver of the tanker, Eckard, were transported by ground to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma in Baltimore. Their conditions were not immediately known.
An emergency response team from the Maryland Department of Environment responded to help clean up the spill and determine any other concerns in the area.
Route 140 was closed for two hours and area businesses were evacuated until the area was deemed safe.
Troopers were also assisted by deputies with the Carroll County Sheriff's Office, and personnel from the State Highway Administration and Carroll County Roads Department.
MDE and state troopers were remaining at the scene until the tanker could be up righted and removed.
Troopers are still conducting the investigation. Anyone who may have witnessed the collision is asked to contact Trooper Granville Fairbanks at 410-386-3000.