EUGENE, Ore. (CBS Seattle/AP) – A tanker truck moving young salmon from a failing hatchery crashed and spilled thousands of fish on the side of a highway in western Oregon.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife estimates 11,000 juvenile salmon died in Tuesday’s wreck east of Eugene.

The truck was hauling the last load of an estimated 227,000 salmon from a hatchery that’s low on water because of problems with a dam on the McKenzie River. The fish were to be released in a river south of Eugene.

“It was a fail-safe operation,” Jeff Ziller, the department’s district biologist told the Register-Guard.  “We don’t know what’s going to happen.”

The Register-Guard reports that the driver missed a curve and crashed into a power pole. The truck ended up on its side in a ditch.

“It’s certainly a loss of fish, but it’s a pretty minor loss in terms of the total release,” Ziller said.  “The fish aren’t the important part right now.”

The driver suffered a broken shoulder and a possible concussion in the wreck on Highway 126.

(TM and © Copyright CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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