Updated:VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla.,None —
A fiery collision in Port Orange between a mail truck, a logging truck, a car and a semi that was carrying hazardous materials, killed 66-year-old Francis Trammell of Neptune Beach, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
The deadly crash shut down northbound Interstate 95 in Volusia County, according to FHP (alternate route information).
Troopers said Trammell was driving the semi-truck, which burst into flames. Investigators said the logging truck crashed first, which then caused a pile up.
Emergency crews dealt with the disaster early Thursday morning, about two miles north of the Port Orange exit on I-95.
The northbound lanes of I-95 at mile marker 257 remain closed. Officials said while unloading the hazardous materials from the burned tandem trailer, a leak developed in one of the ethyl bromine containers and affected the crane operator and another worker. Therefore, work was delayed and the road is now expected to reopen at midnight.
Tow trucks are on scene removing the vehicles and debris. Troopers said that after the scene is clear, about 100 feet of roadway will be repaired by a paving company.
WFTV Skywitness 9HD was over the fiery crash as a cloud of dangerous chemicals floated in the air.
"The log truck was in the left lane, [and] it lost control, went over in the right lane and dumped the load of logs in the roadway," said Cpt. Robert Duncan of the Florida Highway Patrol.
From there, troopers said a car carrying a woman and two teenagers from New York hit the logs and crashed, followed by the mail truck and finally the semi carrying methyl bromide, which is a chemical used in pesticides.
"It hit the mass up there, caught fire and burned, and that was the sequence of events that we know right now," said Duncan.
As the truck burned, crews couldn't get close to rescue Trammel, who was declared missing for hours, but later officials confirmed that he died in the crash.
Now, FHP said it is in the middle of a traffic homicide investigation. Troopers said that once the investigation is completed, the heavily damaged road will be repaired.
"It's going to take a while to get that fixed. That's what's really going to be the problem here today is getting the roadway fixed," said Duncan.
Troopers said the three people in the car and the men in the log truck and mail truck were taken to a local hospital with minor injuries.
Methyl bromide is a colorless and odorless gas. The chemical was released and mixed with smoke as it burned. Emergency workers who came in contact with the chemical said they had to be decontaminated.
For hours, nearby residents were told to stay inside their homes with the windows closed.
"I asked three officers what chemicals it was and no one really said anything, so yeah we were worried. It smelled pretty bad out," said resident Margaret Melise.
Officers were stationed at the scene because the spill was being cleaned up and some wooded areas were still burning.