November 30, 2016


Diesel fuel from an overturned PepsiCo truck Tuesday morning wasn’t the only thing contaminating Greenbrier Creek following a single-vehicle crash that sent the driver to a Des Moines hospital by helicopter.

Bottles of soft drinks by the dozens were seen floating downstream after the Carroll-based semitrailer truck struck a bridge on 290th Street about 5 miles south of Jefferson shortly after 9:30 a.m., causing the trailer to overturn into the creek below, according to Trooper Jeff Cunningham of the Iowa State Patrol.

The driver, 34-year-old Bradley Edward Ruhnke, of Carroll, was able to free himself from his twisted cab, according to Cunningham, and was conscious when first responders arrived.

He nevertheless was flown by medical helicopter from the Greene County Medical Center to a hospital in Des Moines with a head injury, Cunningham said.

Ruhnke was hauling soda westbound toward Bayard from Jefferson — working for Pepsi Beverages Company in Carroll — when he hit the corner of a bridge just east of K Avenue, and the truck overturned.

Authorities weren’t sure Tuesday what caused Ruhnke to cross the centerline and strike the bridge.

“He doesn’t remember any of it,” said Jack Williams, chief deputy of the Greene County Sheriff’s Office and Jefferson fire chief.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources estimated 200 gallons of diesel fuel and other fluids spilled into Greenbrier Creek.

First responders were able to contain the spill, according to the DNR, by placing absorbent booms in the creek to catch any petroleum.