SECAUCUS, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Huge pieces of steel came crashing down on eastbound Route 3 in Secaucus Wednesday afternoon – crushing a van and leaving two people trapped.

The incident took place at around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday near Paterson Plank Road, authorities said.

As CBS2’s Diane Macedo reported, rescuers scrambled to save the pair from the mangled mess.

Even for a seasoned emergency responder like Secaucus Mayor Mike Gonnelli, the scene of the crash was a tough one to process.

“I’ve been a firefighter for over 40 years,” Gonnelli said. “We see a lot of things like this. I’ve never seen anything quite like this one.”

Gonnelli personally rushed to the scene immediately.

He said the crash started when a semi-trailer truck carrying part of a crane hit the Paterson Plank Road overpass on the eastbound side of Route 3. A large crane part then fell onto a white van in the left lane, pinning both of the drivers’ legs.

Gonnelli told WCBS 880’s Levon Putney rescue workers got the passenger out after between 10 and 20 minutes, but the driver had it worse. The part of the heavy steel structure that came crashing down pinned down his front leg, Gonnelli said.

“I would estimate he was probably trapped for about an hour and a half before we got him out,” Gonnelli said. “He did lose consciousness. He still was alive. He still was breathing, and obviously you saw a Hackensack Hospital helicopter landed and I believe they took him to a trauma center.”

Gonnelli said the driver was likely conscious for about 40 minutes before passing out.

The passenger was also seriously injured, Gonnelli said.

“He was conscious; he was talking; he was fully aware of what was happening around him,” the mayor said.

With the road backed up for miles, witnesses could only sit there and watch.

Witness Ed Martos said he saw “just a whole lot of rescue personnel” at the scene.

“It is pretty bad,” added witness Eric Douglas. “I feel sorry for the passenger and the driver.”

Both the driver and the passenger were taken to Hackensack University Hospital and are said to be in serious condition, WCBS 880 reported.

The mayor said the driver of the truck was shaken up and also was taken to the hospital, though he did not appear to have any serious injuries.

Buses inbound to the Port Authority Bus Terminal via Route 3 were detouring.

Route 3 was to be closed for several hours since there is damage to the Paterson Plank Road overpass, according to the DOT. The expressway remained closed as of late Wednesday.

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