SHIRLEY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – All lanes of the Long Island Expressway reopened Thursday morning after a chain reaction crash killed one person and injured 33 others.
The wreck happened Wednesday in the eastbound lanes where the L.I.E. meets the William Floyd Parkway at exit 68.
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Police said 42-year-old Raymond Simoneau of Rockingham, Vermont was hauling storm debris from Superstorm Sandy when he struck a number of cars.
The chain reaction then triggered a massive pile up involving 35 vehicles as the tractor-trailer and two other cars burst into flames.
“I was about 50 feet away,” witness Jack Eddington told 1010 WINS. “You could see the car and the tractor-trailer cab just fully engulfed, it looked like they were melting.”
“We heard ‘boom, boom, boom,’” said driver Neil Grant.
He and his wife had just stopped because of construction and said a glance in the rear view mirror saved their lives.
“We heard multiple hits and that’s when I said, ‘this guy’s going to run into my back’ so I pulled to the side and he sideswiped me,” Grant said.
Christa Zepf, 68, of Blue Point was killed in the crash and 33 others were injured — one seriously — and taken to area hospitals, police said.
Robert Murphy, 57, of Lloyd Harbor, remains in critical condition with a head injury at Brookhaven Memorial Hospital, police said.
The cause of the initial wreck hasn’t been determined and so far no charges had been filed. Investigators are still working to sort out the sequence of events that led to the crash.
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“In my memory, I don’t recall an accident involving this many cars and people in Suffolk County,” said Police Deputy Inspector Kevin Fallon.
The driver of the tractor-trailer was not injured.