Stranded Drivers Play Football on NJ Highway After Truck Fire

After a fiery fatal crash under an overpass shut down the New Jersey Turnpike and caused miles-long backups Tuesday, frustrated drivers got out of their cars to stretch their legs. 

Northbound truck lanes reopened at about 1 p.m., more than two hours after a dump truck overturned and caught fire underneath the Wood Avenue overpass in Linden. Northbound car lanes are still closed, and officials said that the entire southbound side near the crash site was expected  to be closed through the afternoon rush Tuesday.

CHICAGO – JULY 01: A videographer shoots from the Ledge, a new glass cube that juts out from the 103rd floor Skydeck of the Sears Tower, during a media preview July 1, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. The 1,353 foot high observatory will open to the public tomorrow. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Video captured at the scene showed traffic at a total standstill -- with drivers out of their cars, standing in groups or alone on the shoulder as they looked mournfully at the line of vehicles. Some people were seen playing football as they tried to pass the time. Others were tanning.  

The unidentified truck driver was killed in the crash, state police said. It's not yet clear what caused the truck to crash and burst into flames. The blaze was quickly extinguished, but police say the flames may have compromised gas and power lines that run under the overpass as well as the structure itself.

Utility PSE&G said the truck fire damaged its underground electric facilities, causing heavy damage to cables and knocking out power to about 75 customers.

Turnpike Authority spokesman Tom Fenney said inspectors will determine whether the overpass is structurally safe.

Some drivers stuck in the traffic said that parts of the bridge appeared to be falling off after the crash.

It wasn't clear if the truck driver was hurt.

Delays on the northbound side stretched back nearly to the Garden State Parkway. On the southbound side, traffic was jammed as far back as Interstate 280. Several drivers who have been stuck in the traffic have gotten out of their cars, and at least a few could be seen tossing a football. 

Northbound traffic is being diverted at Interchange 11 for car lanes. Southbound traffic is being directed off at Interchange 14. NJ Transit bus service between exits 11 and 14 is being diverted to the Garden State Parkway and delays of up to 60 minutes were expected, the company said. 

[NATL] Top News Photos: Pope Visits Japan, and More

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us