What to Know
- A DUI driver who was trying to reverse a stolen car on the Schuylkill Expressway crashed into a tractor-trailer, causing the big rig to burst into flames, killing the truck driver and closing I-76 for more than seven hours on Wednesday, investigators said.
- Traffic backed up for miles approaching the scene as crews spent hours investigating before opening one lane of the highway to traffic again after more than seven hours.
- The driver of the striking vehicle will be charged with homicide by vehicle, leaving the scene of an accident involving death, recklessly endangering another person, driving under the influence and other related offenses.
A DUI driver who was trying to reverse a stolen car on the Schuylkill Expressway crashed into a tractor-trailer, causing the big rig to burst into flames, killing the truck driver and closing I-76 for more than seven hours on Wednesday, investigators said.
Zamir Abdul-Johnson-Selby, 19, of Philadelphia, was driving a 2018 Toyota Yaris on I-76 eastbound around 2:30 a.m. and overshot the Girard Avenue exit, officials said. Abdul-Johnson-Selby tried to reverse but lost control of the car and crashed into a tractor-trailer, according to police.
The big rig struck a protective wall and caught fire, PennDOT spokesman Brad Rudolph said. The truck's load of produce and parts of the burnt wreckage dropped onto Sweet Briar Drive below the highway overpass in Fairmount Park.
The Toyota meanwhile spun 360 degrees before coming to a final stop in the left lane.
It took responding firefighters about two hours to extinguish the gasoline-fueled fire.
The truck driver, a 54-year-old Florida man who isn't being named pending family notification, died at the scene, police said. The driver and two girls in the other car had minor injuries and fled the scene. Police later found them at a hospital.
Troopers took Abdul-Johnson-Selby into custody. He was later charged with homicide by vehicle, leaving the scene of an accident involving death, recklessly endangering another person, driving under the influence and other related offenses.
Investigators also said the Toyota was stolen.
It isn't clear if Abdul-Johnson-Selby has an attorney who could comment on his behalf.
The traffic mess lasted through most of the morning. One lane of traffic finally began moving again around 10 a.m. The shoulder remained closed into the afternoon.
The fiery crash caused some minor damage to the overpass, which required minor repairs, but it was deemed safe, Rudolph said.
Sweet Briar Drive remained closed for cleanup into the afternoon.
Around 7 a.m., traffic could be seen backed up for miles as the delay swelled to more than 100 minutes, according to Waze.
Drivers earlier were urged avoid Interstate 76 and take Kelly Drive or neighborhood roads instead as everyone was forced off the highway at Montgomery Drive or earlier at City Avenue. Drivers approaching the scene were forced off the highway and had to take surface roads through West Philadelphia and Fairmount Park.
Police also reopened Martin Luther King Drive, which runs adjacent to I-76 near the crash scene, at one point, NBC10 First Alert Traffic reporter Sheila Watko said. MLK Drive was closed to give people space to be socially distant while working out during the coronavirus pandemic.