SHIRLEY, N.Y. (AP) — A tractor-trailer smashed into several vehicles on a major highway on Wednesday afternoon, setting off a chain reaction of fiery crashes, killing one person and injuring 33 others, police said.
The accident on the Long Island Expressway, about 70 miles east of New York City, left at least two dozen vehicles strewn across several hundred yards of the eastbound lanes. At least three vehicles, including the tractor-trailer, which was carrying storm debris, caught fire and were still smoldering into the early evening, a fire official said.
A 68-year-old Blue Point woman, who was driving a Toyota Camry eastbound on the expressway, died at the scene, police said. The injured were taken to three area hospitals.
The tractor-trailer driver, 42-year-old Raymond Simoneau, of Rockingham, Vt., was heading eastbound when the truck struck a number of cars, triggering a pileup involving 35 vehicles, Suffolk County police said. He was uninjured, police said.
A car involved in the initial collision with the tractor-trailer was incinerated beyond recognition, with its tires punctured and paint burned off its body. Some SUVs and cars suffered extensive damage while others appeared to have barely a scratch; all were haphazardly stopped across the highway, which is up to six lanes in parts.
Police Deputy Inspector Kevin Fallon said the accident occurred at about 2:40 p.m. on a bright, sunny day. He said the eastbound lanes of the roadway, which connects suburban Long Island neighborhoods with New York City, were expected to remain closed until Thursday morning.