In September 2023, a truck lost control of its cargo and spilled 5 million bees onto a road outside Toronto. That’s a lot of bees, but they made up only a tiny fraction of the billions of tons of cargo transported by truck in North America each year. With so many trucks on the highways, this kind of event happens from time to time, with everything from beer to hagfish becoming a roadside attraction.
In August 2015, a 23-year-old trucker became distracted by his canine driving companion and lost control of his vehicle, swerving into the center median guardrail on I-75 in Florida. The Bud Light truck tipped onto its side and spilled Natural Light (owned by Anheuser-Busch) beer cans along the road and adjacent grass. The driver and his small pooch walked away without any injuries.
Just two days after the Natty Light spill, a produce truck dumped 22 tons of pears out onto the highway in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province in China. Villagers in the area acted fast and arrived on the scene with bags to collect the stray fruit. Some loaded up entire cars and trucks, making multiple trips to capitalize on the accident. Although the pears were worth about 80,000 yuan (or roughly $11,000 in 2015), the owner did not mind the ransack because the produce was too damaged to sell.
3. Frozen Turkeys
Thirty thousand pounds of frozen Butterball turkeys were on their way to Costco for Thanksgiving in 2014 when the truck took an exit too fast and tipped over on a California Bay Area highway. The turkeys were boxed and safe from harm but could no longer be sold in stores due to the accident. The food didn’t go to waste, though: It was donated to the Alameda County Food Bank in Oakland.
4. Ice Cream
In 2011, a truck carrying 40,000 pounds of Edy’s Ice Cream took a spill on Interstate 69 in Indiana. The truck was intact after the accident, but when tow trucks were pulling the truck to the shoulder, ice cream containers came pouring out. Thanks to freezing weather conditions, a good chunk of the frozen booty was preserved and loaded onto a different truck. The truck driver sustained only minor injuries and was checked into a local hospital.
5. Live Crabs
In 2014, a van loaded with live crabs collided with an SUV in Changsha, China, causing the crustaceans to be strewn about on the street. On top of the dozens of crabs, there was also a single crocodile (no big deal), which was safely netted. People who witnessed the incident immediately scrambled to pick up the little scuttlers and shoved them into bags, bins, and purses. According to The Daily Meal, “The scene was reportedly completely bereft of crabs within five minutes of the accident.”
6. Frozen Baked Goods and Bratwurst
In the fall of 2011, a truck overturned on I-74 in Illinois, letting loose 20 tons of food, including chocolate cake, doughnuts, cinnamon rolls, and bratwursts. (The accident did take place in the Midwest.) It took more than seven hours to clean up the delicious mess, but no one was seriously injured.
In 2012, a truck carrying 3000 gallons of paint toppled over near Manaus, Brazil. The spilled paint mixed together, creating a beautiful pastel swirl of colors on the street.
8. LEGO Bricks
A truck wasn’t exactly responsible for these spilled pieces, but it did cause a major kerfuffle on the highway. A family cruising on I-79 in West Virginia accidentally dumped their crate of LEGO bricks—which was strapped to the top of the vehicle—and scattered them across the interstate. The 11-year-old owner of the bricks was heartbroken, but many kind-hearted Facebook users offered to donate LEGO pieces and money to replace his collection.
9. Dead Fish
In October 2015, a truck carrying hundreds of dead fish emptied its contents onto a road near Kilbarchan, Scotland. The fish were en route to a waste management company, and while it was an unfortunate incident, the upside to the spill is that it led to some incredible jokes. Even Traffic Scotland’s Twitter feed got in on the fun, noting, “cleanup ops now fin-ished & lane 2 o-fish-ialy repoened. Traffic getting back to normal[.]”
When a truck traveling on Highway 132 in California clipped a van and rolled over in 2015, it unleashed about 48,000 pounds of bottled wine. The truck driver and the riders of the van were taken to the hospital with minor injuries.
11. Angry Bees
Before the 2023 bee incident, a truck carrying a shipment of honeybees tipped over on a Washington state highway in 2015, and millions of the perturbed insects took to the sky after freeing themselves from the wreck. Beekeepers managed to save some hives, but most of the escapees had to be killed with foam after attacking innocent bystanders.
In 2007, a truck took a curve too quickly and flipped over on a Colombian highway—and the cocaine that had been lining the walls and roof burst out of its hiding place and all over the pavement. The driver was not hurt, but was definitely arrested.
A truck driver caused a serious traffic jam in 2012 after forgetting to properly close the back of his vehicle. Motorists in Kolobrzeg, Poland, were held up as 24 tons of sardines spilled from inside the truck onto the road. The trucker was asked to pay $7500 for cleanup as well as a $75 fine.
14. Bull Semen
In 2011, a Greyhound bus in Tennessee didn’t realize it had lost part of its load of bull semen when emergency personnel arrived on the scene. They found four small propane tank-sized canisters that gave off a vapor and an unpleasant smell. Learning that the vapor was just dry ice and not something more dangerous, the workers quickly cleared the canisters from the highway.
In June 2015, a truck holding 70,000 pounds of bacon stalled on train tracks in Wilmington, Illinois, southwest of Chicago. An Amtrak train then collided with the vehicle, overturning it and revealing its mouthwatering contents. Remarkably, no one was hurt in the accident.
16. A 56-Foot Sperm Whale
The city of Tainan, Taiwan, looked like the set of a slasher movie after a 56-foot sperm whale exploded on its way through town. The whale had beached itself earlier, and was being carted by a flatbed truck to a research facility for a necropsy. As the whale lay rotting in the sun, gases built up inside its carcass until they detonated in a flood of whale guts.
In 2004, a wrecked armored truck spilled more than $2 million in coins on the New Jersey Turnpike (and another spill in 2018 dropped $300,000 on the same highway). In 2005, a truck caught fire and spilled $800,000 in scalding-hot quarters on an Alabama road. And in 2008, a vehicle carrying more than 3.5 million nickels (worth about $185,000) to the Miami Federal Reserve dumped its load after a violent wreck that killed the passenger.
18. A Ship Engine
What do you do when a 200-ton marine engine destined for a San Diego shipyard flips off its flatbed? Get a crane. Actually, get three cranes—and a new road. The massive engine pancaked three parked cars (there was only one occupant among the parked vehicles, who sustained only minor injuries), and even shoved one below the pavement.
In 2005, a truck carrying 35,000 pounds of explosives rolled over on a Utah highway and blew up moments after the driver and passenger escaped. The blast dug a crater 30 feet deep and 70 feet wide. It also sent concrete road barriers hundreds of feet in the air and twisted nearby railroad tracks like straws. Fortunately, no one was killed in the incident.
20. Slime Eels
In 2017, motorists near Portland, Oregon, were stunned when a truck stopped short in front of a road construction site and accidentally disgorged 13 shipping containers of slime eels, formerly known as hagfish. About 7500 pounds of the slippery and, indeed, slimy jawless fish were strewn all over the road, other cars, and the drivers, who were forced to wade through ankle-deep puddles of mucous produced by the stressed-out eels. Said one witness to a KOIN reporter, “Our brains couldn’t process what was happening.”
A version of this story was published in 2015; it has been updated for 2023.