The investigation continues into an accident that snarled traffic on westbound Route 78 for hours recently. The New Jersey Department of Transportation was forced to close the express and local lanes while a fuel fire was put out and the on scene investigation was conducted. One person died in the truck vs. car accident and another suffered critical injuries.
Preliminary reports from the New Jersey State Police indicate that a car occupied only by the driver was merging onto westbound Route 78 from the Garden State Parkway. As he did so, the vehicle cut off a fuel tanker truck that was unable to avoid colliding with the car. The impact catapulted both vehicles into a third truck.
Both trucks slid into the left express lane where the fuel tanker became wedged onto the concrete barrier dividing the highway. Flames quickly swallowed both trucks when the fuel ignited. The driver of the fuel tanker escaped with his life through the windshield but suffered serious injuries.
At last report, he remained hospitalized and is considered to be in critical condition. The driver of the merging car died at the scene. The other truck driver was treated at the hospital and later released.
Nearly 9,000 gallons of fuel fed the flames and smoke from the truck. The Aircraft Rescue Firefighting team from Newark Liberty International Airport was called to the scene to put out the fire. The specially trained unit uses foam to put out fires involving large amounts of fuel.
As the trucker struggles to recover from his injuries, his medical expenses are growing quickly. At present, this may not be a concern as he fights for his life, but it may be at some point. He is likely entitled to workers' compensation benefits, which would cover those medical expenses and lost wages, among other benefits. In addition, he may also file a personal injury claim against the estate of the passenger car driver. Successfully proving negligence on his part could result in an award of damages to the truck driver that could help alleviate the financial burdens borne from this truck vs. car accident.
Source: nj.com, "Chatham man killed in fiery Route 78 crash, trucker critically injured", Noah Cohen and Jessica Remo, Dec. 6, 2014