Update: 49-Year-Old Believed to be Victim of Fiery Turnpike Crash
One man - believed to be a 49-year-old resident of Belleville - was killed in the accident, which occurred about 9:45 a.m. near Exit 7A in Robbinsville Township.
Update, 8 p.m. Oct. 3:
Southbound lanes of the turnpike have reopened to traffic, according to the state police.
Update, 4:45 p.m. Oct. 3:
According to the New Jersey State Police, the truck driver killed in this morning's accident on the New Jersey Turnpike in Robbinsville is believed to be a 49-year-old man from Belleville.
However, official confirmation of the dead man's identity is pending the completion of the medical examiner's investigation, state police said.
The southbound lanes of the New Jersey Turnpike remain closed between Exit 9 (Route 18) and Exit 7A (I-195), but northbound lanes have been reopened, according to the turnpike authority.
The state police, meanwhile, said eastbound lanes of Interstate 195 have reopened to traffic, however westbound lanes of I-195 remain closed.
Update, 1 p.m. Oct. 3:
New Jersey State Police have confirmed that the driver was killed.
According to the state police and turnpike authority, southbound traffic is being diverted off the turnpike at Exit 9, while northbound traffic is being detoured off the turnpike at Exit 4.
Meanwhile, eastbound traffic is being diverted off Interstate 195 at Exit 5 and westbound traffic detoured off I-195 at Exit 7.
Significant traffic backups have resulted on Route 1 and Route 130 throughout the region.
Original Story, posted 11:19 a.m. Oct. 3:
A fire involving an overturned truck closed both sides of the New Jersey Turnpike and also disrupted traffic along adjacent Interstate 195 in Robbinsville Township this morning (Oct. 3), according to the New Jersey Turnpike Authority and a witness to the crash.
While authorities have not commented on the extent of the driver’s injuries, first arriving emergency personnel reported that the man was trapped in the burning wreckage. The witness, who said she was traveling a few vehicles behind the truck when it flipped over and burst into flames, said the driver was killed.
The accident happened about 9:45 a.m. along the southbound side of the turnpike in the area of milepost 60.6, just north of the Exit 7A interchange.
“It was a couple cars back. I heard a boom. He [the truck driver] lost one of his wheels. He zigzagged and swerved and all that. Then he hit the median, flipped over, went on fire. And unfortunately the driver died,” said the woman, who asked to remain anonymous.
A resident of Mahwah, she was on her way to a job site in Sicklerville when she witnessed the tragedy.
Not feeling it was safe to drive past the flaming truck, the woman backed her car away, pulled to the side of the road, and called 911. She said other motorists did the same.
She said an unmarked emergency vehicle, driven by man wearing a gun on his hip, was soon on the scene and tried to fight the blaze using gloves and a fire extinguisher.
But the fire was too intense and burned until fire crews from Robbinsville, Allentown, Cranbury and East Windsor arrived. The woman said firefighters arrived quickly and soon had the fire extinguished.
“I feel awful,” she said. “Apparently the driver who didn’t make it, his cousin is also a driver, and he’s a few trucks back. It’s so sad.”