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'Stressed' Slime Eels Spill All Over Highway 101 After Crash

A truck carrying slime eels overturned Thursday on U.S. Highway 101 near Depoe Bay, covering the road and other vehicles in slime.

Police said Salvatore Tragale, 59, was driving north when he was unable to stop his truckload of eels in time for an Oregon Department of Transportation flagger at a construction zone.

“The Mitsubishi was loaded with 13 containers of a net weight of 7,500 pounds of hagfish,” Oregon State Police Lt. Cari Boyd wrote in a statement. 

Boyd said as the truck tried to stop, one of the containers came off the truck bed and flew across the highway into the southbound lane.

That flying container hit a 2017 Nissan in the southbound lane, driven by Arizona resident Kim Randal, 64. Randal’s vehicle set off a chain reaction of collisions that damaged three other vehicles.

Photos of Randal’s slime-covered sedan quickly spread on the internet after being tweeted by Oregon State Police.

The messy destruction didn’t stop there, however.

“The other containers separated from the bed of the truck and spilled onto the highway,” Boyd said.

Police said the eels were being shipped for consumption in Korea. Eels can range in size from a few inches to up to 13 feet long.

It’s likely that the bumpy ride played a role in how messy the crash was, according to OSP

“When Hagfish become stressed, they secrete a slime,” Boyd said.

The truck was traveling Oregon’s highways because in the 2000s, Korea overfished the slimy creatures and began looking to imports from foreign countries to meet domestic demand. According to the Coos Bay World, Oregon stepped up to meet that need.

“The consumption is a lot for live eels,” Sammy Cho, a Korean born fish exporter in Charleston, Oregon, told the newspaper in 2012. “They mainly enjoy live.”

The Depoe Bay Fire Department used a small bulldozer and firehoses to push the eels off the road.

Officials said no one was seriously injured in the crash, and the highway reopened to traffic around 4 p.m. PST.

Still, the nightmarish scene might stick with people who were at the scene for a while. ODOT wrapped up its coverage of the event on Twitter this way:

“We’re signing off for the evening, but I doubt we’ll sleep tonight because…#eels,” the agency tweeted.

eels slime oregon department of transportation

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