Unlicensed driver cause of tanker spill

A Bay Area woman without a driver’s license was responsible for the big-rig tanker crash that spilled more than 2,500 gallons of fuel on U.S. Highway 101 last month that caused part of the highway to be closed for two days, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The CHP recently wrapped up its investigation into the Jan. 29 crash that transformed the traffic artery into a parking lot and forced a multitude of local, state and federal agencies to help mop up gas that leaked into a center-divide drain underneath the highway.

Parts of the highway were closed for repairs for two nights in a row, snarling commutes until the lanes fully reopened Jan. 31.

Angelina Revuelta, 28, of Hayward, was driving in the far right lane on northbound Highway 101 on Jan. 29 when she swerved to the right to avoid traffic that had slowed down. But as she was going off the road, she swerved to the left and clipped the rear tire of the tanker driving in the center lane, CHP spokeswoman Grace Castillo said.

Revuelta’s Mercury minivan was traveling at 50 miles per hour, while the tanker, driven by Mark Coluin for KAG West of West Sacramento, was going 55 miles per hour, Castillo said.

“[Revuelta] was cited for being unlicensed,” said Castillo, who added that any further punitive action against Revuelta would be “up to the other parties involved.”

No criminal charges will be handed down against Revuelta by the CHP, Castillo said.

KAG West has not yet determined whether it will try to recoup money from Revuelta’s insurance company, KAG West spokeswoman Patty Harcourt said.

“I’m guessing even if we were to file a claim, it wouldn’t come close to covering the costs,” Harcourt said.

Caltrans has not yet tallied its costs associated with the highway repairs, though the agency did set aside $500,000 for repairs, spokeswoman Lauren Wonder said. Officials have not yet determined who will pay for that response.

“Once we receive the [CHP] report, we determine what’s next,” Wonder said. “That’s what we do, whether it’s an individual hitting a guardrail or the MacArthur Maze meltdown.”

The county’s hazmat team determined recently that it would ask KAG West to reimburse its costs, Environmental Health Director Dean Peterson said. The costs are estimated to be roughly $16,000.

Nearly a dozen other police and fire agencies also responded to the crash, but it’s up to them whether they will seek reimbursement, according to Bill O’Callahan, supervisor in the county Office of Emergency Services.

Revuelta could not be reached for comment Thursday.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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