- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 11, 2004

BALTIMORE — Three persons died in a fiery crash yesterday afternoon on southbound Interstate 95, just north of the toll plaza for the Fort McHenry Tunnel, officials said.

The crash involving two tractor-trailers and three passenger cars happened at about 4:15 p.m. and quickly closed the interstate in both directions.

“All the traffic just stopped completely then things just started going crazy,” said 20-year-old Jesse Myser a vendor at Free State Steel. “The whole truck was gone. It looked like it melted the whole truck down.”

Authorities reopened the road to northbound traffic at about 6 p.m.

However, southbound traffic was diverted to Interstate 895, the Harbor Tunnel Thruway, late into the evening rush hour, said Cpl. Greg Prioleau, a Maryland Transportation Authority police spokesman. He also said southbound I-95 would remain closed for the duration of the evening.

Two persons were pronounced dead at the scene, a third died at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center; all were in the cars. Two others were taken to area hospitals.

“We heard it blow up. Four times it blew up,” said Jim Kurgan, 35, who witnessed the accident from an elevated highway about 400 yards away. “There was a lot of black smoke all over the place.”

Baltimore fire spokesman Kevin Cartwright said firefighters quickly brought the flames under control. Foam was used because of the possibility of hazardous materials being involved, but none were found. No firefighters were injured.

Earlier this year, both directions of I-95 near Baltimore were closed after an accident involving two tractor-trailers. Four persons were killed in that incident.

On January 13, Jackie M. Frost, 64, crashed his gasoline tanker, which plunged from an overpass onto the interstate near Elkridge.

Reports later showed that Mr. Frost apparently suffered a heart attack or had another medical problem that caused him to lose control of his truck before he crashed and died.

The tanker hit a tractor-trailer and a taxicab, killing both of the drivers. The driver of a pickup truck that drove into the flames was also killed in the crash.

That accident brought traffic to a standstill for hours.

Judith Person contributed to this article, which is based in part on wire service reports.

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