Tractor-Trailer Wreck Closes I-95 - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

10/21/04

Tractor-Trailer Wreck Closes I-95

A tractor-trailer crashed on Interstate 95 in McIntosh County at the Darien exit, right next to the outlet mall. Georgia State Patrol says the driver fell asleep at the wheel while in the northbound lane on Interstate 95. His truck went off the road. By the time he woke up, his truck was skidding out of control.

The tractor-trailer was still burning hours after the accident. The cab was virtually incinerated, the trailer was charred and melting.

"The truck hit the guard rail, started sliding on its side and hit the bridge, that's when it caught on fire," said Trooper Robert Balkcom.

The truck was carrying a load of plastic, which also caught fire.

Antoinette Wilson was working at the Waffle House near the exit. "This morning around 8:30 or so, we saw black smoke," she told us, saying people in the restaurant then heard a loud noise.

The truck driver and his female passenger made it out of the big rig on their own, before it caught fire. They were both taken to a hospital in Brunswick.

The truck didn't hit any other vehicles, but it may have damaged the bridge. You can see the paint peeling from the intense heat, the DOT investigators were on the scene to make sure the bridge was safe to cross.

The bridge is part of Highway 251, and was closed along with about a half mile section of I-95 northbound. Police diverted the traffic off the Darien exit and then let them get right back on the interstate.

Drivers were stuck, not knowing what was ahead. But Georgia State Patrol couldn't open the interstate, until all the debris was cleaned up.

As of 4pm, DOT representatives tell us the lanes are back open.

Reported by: Michelle Paynter, mpaynter@wtoc.com

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