A big rig packed with Diet Coke crashed early Wednesday and shut down eastbound Interstate 94 in western Minnesota for several hours, while authorities cleared the soda slick and chased down the sleepy driver and a passenger accused of getting in trouble with coke.
The crash occurred about 3:50 a.m. near Alexandria, ending with the semitrailer truck on its side and its liquid load scattered about the road and median, according to the State Patrol.
The driver, Shane Bembenek, 33, of Mosinee, Wis., had fallen asleep before losing control of his truck, said patrol Sgt. Jesse Grabow.
Bembenek and his passenger ran from the scene but were quickly apprehended by law enforcement, Grabow added.
The truck had just been put “out of service” about six hours earlier at the Moorhead weigh station along I-94 because Bembenek “had a false log book and [was] operating a commercial motor vehicle while disqualified” from doing so, the sergeant said.
Bembenek was charged with a slew of offenses, among them: failure to use due care, driving after an out of service order, having a false log book and not keeping it current, and not wearing a seat belt.
Bembenek’s passenger, Kenneth Sherman, 35, has a warrant out from Wisconsin on a charge of cocaine possession, according to Grabow.
The two were taken to Alexandria Hospital for treatment of minor injuries.
Both lanes of eastbound I-94 were reopened about five hours later.