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Drunk Charge Dropped in Tanker Spill

Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office has decided not to press drunk-driving charges against a truck driver arrested after a tank trailer loaded with 5,000 gallons of crude oil broke off a moving truck in the Newhall area.

The driver still faces a charge of running a red light.

The trailer was found overturned, and spilling oil into Newhall Creek on the Sierra Highway at San Fernando Road in the pre-dawn hours of May 18. The truck had disappeared. Caltrans and Los Angeles County health department crews worked two days to clean up the spill.

Daniel Bryant, 25, of Bakersfield was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol after he drove up to the oil-covered scene several hours after the spill.

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Blood Test Given

A blood test given Bryant about four hours after the accident found a blood-alcohol level of .08%, which is below the .10% considered legally intoxicated, Deputy Dist. Atty. Elliott Fisher said.

Because of the blood-test reading and because there was no witness to say whether Bryant was driving the truck when the trailer came loose, “We had no chance of convicting this guy for driving under the influence,” Fisher said.

CHP officers said Bryant told them his truck was pulling two tankers of crude oil from a well in the Bakersfield area to the Newhall Refinery. When employees at the refinery asked him what happened to the rear trailer, he set out to retrace his route to look for it, CHP Officer Harry Ingold said.

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Bryant later telephoned the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to report the missing trailer and was told that the CHP was dealing with an overturned trailer in the Newhall area, Ingold said.

Bryant was charged with running a red light because an officer saw him do so as he drove up to the overturned tanker, Fisher said.

Bryant, who has until June 18 to enter a plea on the charge, could not be reached for comment.


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