Truck dumps ‘slime eels’ onto Oregon highway

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Updated Jul 15, 2017

In an accident scene that could have been dreamt up by horror writer Stephen King, crates of live slime eels flew off the back of a flatbed truck this week in Oregon covering the road and neighboring vehicles in countless slithering creatures. (If you can bear to watch it, we’ve posted the video below.)

Though only one person in the five-vehicle crash had minor injuries, everyone else who happened upon Thursday’s hair-raising scene on Highway 101—including state clean-up crews—is stuck with a nasty, slimy memory.

“We’re signing off for the evening, but I doubt we’ll sleep tonight because…#eels,” Oregon Department of Transportation posted on Twitter.

Slime eels are actually saltwater hagfish that emit slime when stressed. How much slime? Each fish oozes enough of the mucous-like substance to transform a five-gallon bucket of sea water into a gooey mess, according to Imagine the mess when 7,500 pounds of the fish hit the highway and nearby vehicles.

Oregon State Police report that a truck driver carrying the hagfish hit the brakes hard when coming upon a road construction site which sent crates filled with the fish flying into traffic.

That driver, Salvatore Tragale, is now facing charges. The hagfish were en route to Korea where they’re served up as a delicacy. On Thursday, they ended up in a ditch instead as crews used a bulldozer and hoses to get them and their slime off the road. The fish, which don’t live long out of saltwater, began dying quickly.

State crews continued to work into the late afternoon removing the fish from the side of the road. However, it looks as though not every fish was recovered, judging by a Tweet sent out by Oregon State Police.

“In this heat… what is this going to start smelling like in the next few days?” the Tweet read.