A tractor-trailer driver was seriously injured yesterday when his rig ran off Interstate 95 near Joppa in Harford County and rammed the rear of another truck, causing both vehicles to burst into flames, state police said.
One truck was loaded with Jim Beam whiskey and the other with cantaloupes; the mess left by the collision closed the northbound lanes of the interstate for 12 hours.
The driver who ran off the road, Louis D. Tibbs, 54, of Baltimore, was in fair condition last night at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center.
Trooper Eric C. Harbold of the JFK Highway barracks said that the accident occurred about 3:20 a.m. when Mr. Tibbs' rig, loaded with cantaloupes, left the road for an unknown reason and struck the rear of the tractor-trailer loaded with whiskey.
Police said the second truck was illegally parked on the shoulder of I-95 at Mountain Road.
When the rigs burst into flames, a trooper several miles away saw the smoke and fire and rushed to the scene.
The driver of the parked tractor-trailer, Robert R. Hensley, 58, of Mount Airy, N.C., was charged with parking on the shoulder of a controlled-access road, Trooper Harbold said.
Whiskey bottles and boxes of cantaloupes were all over the road.
The trooper said that only those motorists in the immediate vicinity experienced lengthy delays.
A new "chart plan" formulated with the State Highway Administration provides for immediate detour plans when such an accident occurs, the trooper said.
The highway administration dispatched vehicles with digital display signs to direct motorists. A special radio frequency gave motorists reports on traffic movement and detours.
Police said northbound I-95 traffic was detoured onto Route 43 to Pulaski Highway, then north to Route 24 and back to I-95.
The interstate's northbound lanes reopened about 3:30 p.m.