- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 27, 2007

An 82-year-old man who stopped his car in a middle lane of the Baltimore Beltway while trying to exit near Pikesville, Md., yesterday caused a fiery crash involving two tractor-trailers that brought traffic to a standstill for hours, police said.

No one was seriously injured in the crash, which occurred shortly after 10 a.m. and backed up traffic for more than five miles.

Maryland State Police said William Rush, of Phoenix, Md., came to a stop on the Outer Loop’s second lane from the left while trying to exit at Reisterstown Road. When he tried to cross two lanes of traffic on his right, he turned his 2001 four-door Cadillac directly into the path of a tractor-trailer loaded with 24 tons of agricultural lime.

Police said the driver of the truck, John Conneely, 29, of Greensboro, Md., tried to turn but couldn’t avoid the collision.

The vehicles were then hit by another tractor-trailer, which was loaded with 39 tons of municipal waste.

Police said the driver of the second tractor-trailer, Alberto Santiago, 37, of Bayshore, N.Y., tried to maneuver his truck to the left shoulder, but fire engulfed all three vehicles.

“We do not yet know what caused the fire,” said Sgt. Russell Newell, a Maryland State Police spokesman. “There would have been a lot of sparks.”

Mr. Rush and his wife, Emily, 81, were treated for minor injuries by medics at the scene near Pikesville. The truck drivers were also treated for minor injuries and released from Sinai Hospital.

Both trucks and the Cadillac were destroyed.

Mr. Rush was charged with negligent driving and traffic lane violations.

Police and fire officials called Maryland’s Department of Environment to inspect the fire. Investigators determined that no hazardous materials were involved, but heavy smoke and rescue equipment blocked both sides of the roadway. Further delays were caused by front-end loaders and dump trucks, which cleared and hauled the wreckage, lime and waste away.

“There was significant backup,” Sgt. Newell said.

Authorities detoured Inner Loop traffic to Reisterstown Road. Outer Loop traffic was diverted to Stevenson Road. The Inner Loop reopened at about noon, and the Outer Loop reopened at about 2:30 p.m.

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