The accident took place at the in westbound lanes of Interstate 78 at the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission toll booths.
Police say that a car was parked at the toll plaza when it was struck by a tractor trailer from behind. The car became trapped underneath the truck and caught on fire. The driver of the auto, who has not been identified, was killed.
The fire completely consumed their cab of the tractor trailer, but the driver managed to escape before the vehicle was engulfed in flames.
The tractor trailer driver was also injured and taken to a local hospital, but the nature of their injuries is not known. A toll booth worker was injured when they ran near the crash site with fire extinguisher.
The truck driver was driving for ShopRite who released this statement: “Our thoughts and sympathies go out to the families of all involved in this terrible accident.”
Firefighters managed to put out the blaze within an hour but it was still smolder hours later and as off this afternoon the truck and the car had yet to be separated.
Police also said they suspect one of the vehicles hit a toll plaza just moments before the crash.
Police are still investigating the cause of the and will review camera footage at the toll both to determine what happened. One witness told the Lehigh Valley News that the tractor-trailer was driving through the toll plaza at a high rate of speed, but police have not confirmed those allegations.
The witness said the traffic accidents in that area are usually low-speed and that they had never seen one of this magnitude.
“I’ve seen people hit the toll booth. I’ve seen people back up and hit another car. But I’ve never seen anything so devastating, anything so horrible,” the witness told the Lehigh Valley News.
The crash affected the morning commute as police were forced to close down numerous lanes of I-78. Traffic backed up into New Jersey and by this afternoon two westbound lanes were reopened. They said some of the lanes could be closed for several hours while police work to clean up debris and measure the skid marks.
It’s too early to determine if speed was a factor in this accident, but there are many accidents where speed is the primary cause. In a Fatal Causation Study by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that speeding contributed to 23 percent of truck accidents.
Passenger vehicle accidents are more common than truck accidents, but the injuries and property damage that result from truck accidents can be more severe. When a truck accident can be attributed to driver error, the injury victims can seek compensation from the negligent driver and possibly their trucking company. These accident victims are encouraged to contact a truck accident attorney as soon as they are able to ensure they get a generous settlement.