MOSCOW, Idaho - The driver of a large load of oil refinery equipment that struck and damaged a van in northern Idaho has been cited for inattentive driving.
The collision on Dec. 6 near Moscow led the Idaho Transportation Department to suspend shipments of Imperial Oil equipment to an oil sands project in Canada.
The agency is awaiting an internal report from the hauling company before the shipping license will be considered for reinstatement, transportation department spokesman Adam Rush said.
Idaho State Police cited driver Vladimir Purgar of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, after an investigation, the Lewiston Tribune (http://bit.ly/v5ii7P) reported Tuesday.
ISP Capt. Lonnie Richardson said the collision involved one of three shipments that left the Port of Lewiston that night. Drivers were supposed to stop at a staging area on U.S. Highway 95 before traveling through Moscow in a convoy, but one driver tried to leave before southbound traffic was released, he said.
Purgar told investigators the pilot car and the ISP trooper assigned to his lead left the staging area, and he mistakenly followed.
"It was a lapse in driver judgment,'' Richardson said.
A spokesman at Mammoet, the shipping company, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment and contact information for Purgar.
Van owner James Urquidez said he ducked when he saw the megaload coming right for his head.
"It exploded the side window from the pressure,'' he said. "It crushed the windshield. I don't know if it would have hit me or not, but I was able to duck out of the way.''
Urquidez said he was upset that his ordeal has been "minimized.''
"They said it was `non-injury,' but what they failed to mention is that the guy almost killed me,'' he said. "And my van is destroyed.''
Urquidez wasn't taken to a hospital, so the collision was technically classified as non-injury.
At the time, Imperial Oil spokesman Pius Rolheiser said he understood "the damage to the vehicle was relatively minor, but we take incidents like this very seriously.''
Hundreds of loads of oil equipment are being hauled from ports in Idaho and Washington through northwestern Montana to the Kearl Oil Sands project in Alberta.