Jury finds Montana trucking company owner guilty of charges related to explosion

May 24, 2018

Tyson Fisher


A jury has found a Montana trucking company and its owner guilty of 13 of 14 federal charges, for lying about insurance coverage for hazardous materials following an explosion that injured several people, according to federal court documents.

On Feb. 6, 2012, Donald Wood and his Baker, Mont.-based trucking company, Woody’s Trucking, entered into a miscellaneous work agreement with Durango, Colo.-based Saddle Butte Pipeline, which has a natural gas processing plant in North Dakota. Per the agreement, Woody’s Trucking agreed to transport hazardous natural gas condensate liquid to oil-processing plants in Montana.

Three days later, Wood submitted a copy of the agreement to his insurance company to add Saddle Butte Pipeline as an additional insured party. However, according to court documents, Wood failed to disclose the fact that his trucking company would be transporting hazardous material.

Since 2004, Woody’s had obtained insurance from the same company, renewing every year. Wood did not indicate that his trucking company would be transporting hazardous material, thereby reducing the cost of his insurance.

In addition to misrepresenting his cargo to the insurance company, court documents state Woody’s also violated federal regulations requiring proper shipping papers and placards. Hazardous material shipping papers were falsified to prevent investigation.

In all of its annual insurance renewals, Woody’s Trucking stated that the commodity it transported was “KCL water.” Woody’s never mentioned anything about hazardous materials in these renewals.

However, Woody’s transported hazardous material, including a shipment on Dec. 29, 2012. It was on that date when an explosion occurred during the offloading of hazardous natural gas condensate being transported by Woody’s, according to the federal indictment. Three people were injured and extensive damage was done to the receiving facility.

In an attempt to cover his tracks and maintain insurance coverage, Wood told his insurance company that his trucking company was transporting “slop oil and water” and was not aware he was hauling hazardous material. This is when Wood falsified shipping documents to back up his claim, according to court documents.

From February 2012 to December 2012, Woody’s illegally transported hazardous material for Saddle Butte Pipeline on at least 16 separate occasions using two different drivers. Neither driver was Wood himself. The driver involved with the explosion incident was instructed by Wood to list “slop oil and water” in the bill of lading and slip it inside the truck, giving the appearance the document had been there during the shipment.

On May 22, both Wood and Woody’s Trucking were found guilty on all but one of the 14 counts after a seven-day jury trial. The jury found Wood and Woody’s Trucking not guilty on one of many counts of transportation of hazardous materials without placards. Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 4.



Tyson Fisher joined Land Line Magazine in March 2014. An award-winning journalist and tireless researcher, his news reports, features and blogs bring depth to our editorial content, backed with solid detail. Tyson is a lifelong Kansas Citian.