WETHERSFIELD, Conn. — The Berlin Turnpike in Wethersfield was shut down for hours Monday. Emergency crews had been there all day Monday following a serious crash that happened at around 9:30 AM.
Wethersfield Police said two people were injured, but the extent of their injuries isn’t clear. The crash was almost immediately followed by multiple explosions, a towering inferno, and a plume of thick black smoke that could be seen for miles away.
Later Monday evening, police said a person was declared dead at the scene while two other people involved in the crash were taken to the hospital.
FOX61 was first on the scene bringing you the information as it happened on-air and online. FOX61 viewers sent in their videos and pictures to help tell the story too. Two big trucks collided. One truck that was towing a boat was hit by a flatbed carrying a backhoe as it was turning into the Cumberland Farms. The force of the impact ejecting one of the drivers onto the road. Samuel Martinez saw the whole thing and sprang into action. He risked his own life to pull the injured driver to safety before the explosion.
"When we picked him up he was crying because he was in pain. He was in pain but we couldn’t leave him there. We had to do what we had to do. We had to take him because he was going to get burnt," said Martinez. "He thought he was dying. We were talking to him saying no you are going to be alright the ambulance will be here soon."
The crash ignited tanks of diesel fuel on the boat and the fiery fuel leaked into the storm drains, igniting a line of fire across the highway.
Capt. Mark Mahder of the Wethersfield Fire Department said, "The saddle tanks on the truck trying to get into the gas station. That’s what ruptured and spilled into the storm drains but the pumps themselves are okay."
The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection worked with MDC to set up barriers to stop the fuel from contaminating other water sources, while electric crews worked to restore power to nearly 500 customers.
Several businesses along the turnpike had to be evacuated as a precaution. The goal is to have the Northbound side of the turnpike back open Monday evening. The Southbound side where the crash happened is going to take longer.