The copper-plated coin blanks spilled onto the highway on I-95 near New Castle, Del., were enroute to the Philadelphia Mint to be struck into 2016 Lincoln cents. Original images by Coin World.
A tractor-trailer hauling millions of copper-plated zinc planchets bound for the Philadelphia Mint to be struck into 2016 Lincoln cents struck a concrete median barrier on I-95 near New Castle, Del., Sept. 8, and burst into flames.
The truck's cargo was scattered along the northbound lanes for more than 13 hours as clean-up crews used hand shovels and truck-loaded vacuums to recover the planchets. Traffic was diverted by Delaware State Police off the interstate at the I-95 exit preceding the crash site.
The ready-to-strike planchets with raised, or upset rims, were being transported to the Philadelphia Mint from Jarden Zinc Products in Greeneville, Tenn. Jarden is the U.S. Mint's lone supplier of cent planchets. For all other circulating coin denominations, the U.S. Mint secures coinage strip from two other vendors and punches its own raw blanks for conversion into finished planchets for production.
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Officials at Jarden Zinc Products did not respond to Coin World's inquiries about the tractor-trailer accident.
Delaware State Police officials indicate the tractor-trailer was loaded with approximately 45,000 pounds of copper-plated zinc planchets. With each planchet weighing 2.5 grams, that would break down to more than 8.1 million planchets. Police officials indicated the recovered planchets were being stored at a secure facility for eventual delivery to the Philadelphia Mint.
The driver of the tractor-trailer, Stefan Marinkovic, 25, from Chicago, was able to extricate himself from the burning rig and was initially treated at the scene by New Castle County paramedics, then transported to Christiana Hospital for treatment of his non-life-threatening injuries and released.
Marinkovic was cited by Delaware State Police with inattentive driving.
According to Delaware State Police, Marinkovic was traveling in the right-hand lane of northbound I-95, in the area of the I-295 eastbound split in New Castle, at about 1:53 a.m. Sept. 8, when for an unknown reason, he veered his tractor to the right, striking an impact attenuator. The vehicle then rode a concrete median barrier before partially overturning, spilling its load of cent planchets onto the highway, then catching fire.
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