`People are dead in the trucks. ... They're exploding'

January 16, 2004

This is a partial transcript of a 911 call received shortly after Tuesday's crash on Interstate 95.

Dispatcher: Howard County 911

Female Caller: Hello, we have an emergency here on 95. Holy ---- !

D: What, ma'am? Calm down, where on 95 are you?

C: Howard County line.

D: You're right at the line?

C: Sir, there's been an explosion.

D: Ma'am, the Baltimore County line or the PG County line?

C: Howard and Baltimore County, sir. Holy cow!

D: OK, what exactly happened?

C: Cars, and a truck. Two cars - Oh, God.

D: Are they on fire?

C: Yes, sir. They're exploding right now.

D: Are you northbound or southbound?

C: I'm heading northbound. ... Oh, my God. They're dead. Holy ---- .

D: Did you stop?

C: Yes. I'm here, I can't get too far because they're exploding.

D: OK, ma'am, I need you to take one deep breath for me, OK?

C: Yes. The people are dead in the trucks. Oh, ---- . I'm sorry. They're exploding. Can you hear them?

D: No, I can't hear them. Is it a tractor-trailer involved?

C: (Screaming at someone at the scene) "Get away, get away!"

D: Ma'am?

C: I'm sorry.

D: Ma'am?

C: Yes.

D: Is it a tractor-trailer?

C: Yes, sir.

D: Are there any placards on the tractor?

C: Any what?

D: Are there any warning placards on the trailer?

C: No, sir. It's all on fire. 95's on fire. Northbound. Oh, ---- . I was just almost involved in it. Oh, my God. Stay away! It's exploding (starts sobbing).

D: OK, ma'am?

C: Yes?

D: OK, take a deep breath for me. I'm going to stay on the line with you until we get somebody there. ...

C: 95 northbound is on fire. Southbound is on fire. It keeps on, it's flammable obviously. The black smoke - I'm going to have to (breathing heavily) oh, my God. Oh, please help these people. It's on fire.

D: How many explosions have you heard?

C: I've heard about 15, at least. So far, at least. Oh, my gosh. They're still going off.

D: Can you tell how many cars?

C: No, sir, I can't. This black smoke. And actually you'd better get the fire department because it's heading over here toward the woods.

D: OK, I've got people coming from both directions to you. I've got a ton of equipment coming out there. ... Let me ask you this. Can you see anybody running away from the vehicles?

C: No, sir. They're dead. ... Nobody's come out of the vehicles. I just know, I was almost involved in this accident.

D: Is it like a tanker trailer?

C: Yes, sir.

D: So it looks like it might be hauling gas or diesel fuel, or some kind of fuel, like liquid?

C: I see the helicopters now, thank God.

D: Yeah, that's Trooper 8. They just came from the airport.

C: OK. Oh, my God (sobs). Oh, my God.

D: (To someone at 911 center) We've got a tanker on fire. We've got a tanker on fire.

OK, ma'am?

C: Yes, sir?

D: Just take a couple more deep breaths.

C: I will, I'm sorry.

D: That's OK. You've just seen probably the worst thing you'll ever see.

C: (Sobbing). It's still exploding (long pause).

D: Is anybody trying to go near the vehicles?

C: No, sir. Everybody knows better, it's still exploding and fire.

D: But you can't see how many vehicles are up there, right?

C: I saw three of them, two to three. (Sirens in background). Fire department's here now. (Pause) They're still exploding.

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