Sullivan County Emergency Management Agency Director Jim Bean said the single-vehicle wreck occurred at about 11 a.m. In the hours that followed, the Tennessee Department of Transportation reported intermittent lane closures, with both north and southbound travel blocked at 4 p.m.
Bean said the 18-wheeler exited northbound lanes near Exit 74 in Bristol. The driver had to be extricated and was hospitalized at Bristol Regional Medical Center. Due to the load of propane and diesel fuel, a tedious cleanup followed.
After the crash, the surrounding roadways were often snarled. During the evening rush hour, southbound I-81 traffic was being detoured off Exit 74 in Bristol, while northbound traffic was being forced off the interstate at Exit 69 in Blountville.
An investigation into the wreck is being conducted by the Tennessee Highway Patrol.