PHOTOS: Overturned semi removed from embankment; road still closed

An overturned 18-wheeler has shut down Tunnel Road at the tunnel Monday morning. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

It was a scary scene Monday morning as an 18-wheeler hung off a mountainside in Asheville.

The big rig overturned around 9 a.m. on Old Chunns Cove Road.

The truck and trailer were removed from the embankment about 8 p.m. Monday, and the wrecker company was in the process of packaging the wreckage and transporting it off site. The wrecker company will be cleaning up the remaining debris. There is no estimated time to reopen the tunnel or Old Chunns Cove Road.

The investigation revealed that the driver of the vehicle, Ricky Clayton, 40, of Dade City, Florida, had picked up his girlfriend at the bus station on Tunnel Road just prior to the collision.

Not being familiar with the area, Clayton proceeded up Beaucatcher Road over the tunnel, where he went left of center and off the embankment, causing his vehicle to overturn.

Emergency officials say it could take hours to tow the truck down.

Tunnel Road on both sides of Beaucatcher Tunnel is closed until it is removed. Old Chunns Cove Road is closed as well.

Listen to a 911 call related to the incident here:

Clayton was transported to Mission Hospital with a concussion and laceration to his left arm. His girlfriend was also transported for a contusion from the seat belt, on her torso.

Firefighters said that when they arrived, the two were very shaken up.

"The man did state that he just weighed the truck, and it's at 77,000 pounds. So it's fully loaded, I think with processed meat, headed somewhere," said Asheville Fire Department spokesperson Kelley Klope.

Police say they are investigating, and Clayton is being charged with being left of center.

The NCDMV Motor Carrier Unit will inspect the vehicle upon recovery for further violations and charges.

Recovery efforts are still underway, and will continue into the evening. The public is asked to avoid the area if at all possible and choose alternate routes until the scene is cleared.

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