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October 10, 2002 - Man jailed for hitting nuclear-waste truck

A Texas man must serve three days in jail for driving drunk and crashing his pickup into a tractor-trailer carrying nuclear waste from Idaho to a federal dump in southeastern New Mexico. Israel Alvidrez, 20, of Seminole was sentenced to 364 days in jail for driving drunk. Magistrate Judge Bill Sadler in Carlsbad, N.M., suspended all but three days of that sentence.

"You weren“t blasting down one of our streets at 100 miles per hour so I don“t have a problem imposing a minimum mandatory sentence on this," Sadler saidSadler also sentenced Alvidrez to 90 days in jail with all but three days suspended on each of two other charges - careless driving and driving without a license. Sadler ordered the three-day sentences to run concurrently.

"I did do something wrong. I admit that I made a mistake. I“m sorry," Alvidrez said during this week“s hearing. He was arrested Aug. 25 after he drove his pickup into a tractor-trailer carrying two containers of nuclear waste from the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad.

Alvidrez“s vehicle spun after hitting the waste truck on U.S. 62-180 east of Carlsbad, authorities said. The pickup caught fire in the median of the road, but the tractor-trailer with the waste was more than 100 yards away and not threatened by the fire. He was taken to the Carlsbad Medical Center, where he was treated for minor injuries and released. The crash bent the corner of the truck“s heavy, square-tubing bumper, cut the outside left rear tire and damaged the fender. The driver of the truck, Jerry Hanway, and his co-driver, Rita Hanway, were not injured. The tractor-trailer rig was inspected by the state Department of Transportation after the collision and escorted by State Police to the underground dump.

It was the first accident in more than 1,100 shipments of plutonium-contaminated waste to the facility in Carlsbad.

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