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Hagfish slime: 'It was worse than ice'

Eel truck overturns on Highway 101 (Photo: Oregon State Police)

The cleanup was pretty much done Friday on Highway 101 on the coast after a truck load of slimy fish covered the road the day before.

People who were caught in the slime said it’s not something they’ll forget.

About 7,500 pounds of hagfish came off a truck driving north from Newport. The driver tried to stop for construction but didn’t quite do it, and 13 containers with the live fish inside came off the truck. One of those containers landed on Kim Randall’s car. She was visiting from Arizona.

The crate smashed the windshield and Randall and her cousin were trapped inside the car.

“We opened the doors and didn’t get out because we saw all these squiggly things, and all this muck on the road,” she told KATU by phone Friday after returning home. “The firemen had to practically carry us off the road, because it was so slick. It was worse than ice.”

Randall and her cousin were a little bruised and scraped by the accident.

Randall said the hagfish got inside her car. And even after an auto body shop they took it to for repairs hosed the car down, they found one of the slimy eels still in the back bumper.

“And there was one live eel in a place where water had gotten trapped in the back bumper. There was still an eel swimming around,” she said.

Oregon State Police are still investigating the accident and said the driver of the truck who spilled the fish will likely face some sort of fine.

An interesting side note to all this: Scientists are researching the slime the fish excretes, which contains tiny fibers. They think the fibers can be woven into fabric strong enough to be used for artificial tissue and even bulletproof vests.

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