Police are saying speed was the primary cause of a semi-truck crash on Interstate 84 Sunday that sent one man to a local hospital and snarled traffic in the area.

Steven Smith, 37, of Boise, Idaho, was traveling west when his 2012 Kenworth, loaded with recycled cardboard, tipped over after
hitting a concrete barrier while trying to negotiate a curve around 4 p.m.

The truck landed on the passenger side and then slid several feet, according to Oregon State Police Senior Trooper Dan Routt.

Smith, who was the sole occupant of the vehicle, was transported by ambulance by the La Grande Fire Department to Grande Ronde Hospital, where he was treated and released.

Smith was driving too fast for the curve he was trying to negotiate, Routt said.

“He was exceeding the critical speed for the curve,” Routt said.

Smith was issued a careless driving citation by OSP.

Routt said the accident occurred on dry pavement and drugs or alcohol were not a factor in the crash.

“There was no indication of impairment,” Routt said.

The accident forced portions of Interstate 84 between La Grande and Baker City to be closed for more than six hours. Both lanes of traffic were closed at the accident site shortly after the crash, according to Oregon Department of Transportation spokesman Tom Strandberg. The closure caused traffic in La Grande to be backed up on Adams Avenue about a mile to Elm Street.

The interstate was closed at Exit 302, three miles west of Baker City, shortly after 6:30 p.m. to prevent traffic from building up in La Grande. Strandberg said the Flying J Travel Plaza was filled up, forcing truckers to park on local roads in the La Grande area, including Highway 30.

All lanes of the interstate were reopened to traffic at 10:37 p.m. Sunday, according to Strandberg.

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