Four escape crash that closes I-95

Three-truck accident creates 8-mile backup

July 19, 2002|By Maria Blackburn | Maria Blackburn,SUN STAFF

A fiery pre-dawn crash involving three trucks shut down Interstate 95 in both directions for more than two hours yesterday and snarled rush-hour traffic for much of the morning.

The accident occurred shortly after 4 a.m. on I-95 north just north of White Marsh Boulevard, according to Sgt. Thornnie Rouse of Maryland State Police.

No serious injuries were reported.

A moving van driven by Pompee Fritzner, 42, of Brooklyn, N.Y., was attempting to merge onto the interstate from the shoulder when it was struck from behind by a tractor-trailer loaded with food products traveling in the right lane, police said. Fritzner's truck did not have its lights on, Rouse said.

The impact forced Fritzner's truck off the road and sent the tractor-trailer into a second tractor-trailer loaded with trash. Both tractor-trailers struck the center median and burst into flames, police said.

The drivers of the tractor-trailers, Glenn R. Dickerson, 44, of Gordonsville, Va., and David E. Greene Sr., 45, of New Windsor, escaped from their trucks, police said.

Dickerson and Greene were transported by ambulance to Franklin Square Hospital Center. Fritzner and a passenger, Dwayne Boyce, 40, of Staten Island, N.Y., were taken to Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. All four were treated and released, hospital spokesmen said.

"I'm really surprised no one was injured" more seriously, Rouse said.

Twenty-one firefighters from White Marsh, Middle River and surrounding areas fought a diesel fuel fire, which took about 30 minutes to get under control, according to John Parham, spokesman for the Baltimore County Fire Department. The fire was confined to the area along the median, although a second small fire burned in the brush along the shoulder.

I-95 was closed in both directions, backing up traffic for miles -- eight miles for motorists headed south. Some southbound lanes were reopened at 6:30 a.m.; northbound lanes began to reopen three hours later.

Traffic was diverted onto White Marsh Boulevard, U.S. 40, Route 7 and U.S. 1, all of which remained congested for much of the morning.

"It was all backed up," Rouse said. "That's already a congested area. Whenever you have to route people off the road there, you're going to have major headaches."

Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. was asked by the Fire Department to turn off power lines near the accident site so that crews could safely put out the fire. About 200 BGE customers in the area were without power between 6 a.m. and 9:30 a.m., according to a BGE spokeswoman.

In addition, 2,000 to 5,000 Comcast cable subscribers in the Essex area lost service yesterday when fire damaged overhead wires, said Comcast spokeswoman Kirstie Durr. Service was restored by the afternoon.

No charges have been filed in the accident, which is under investigation.

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