The Long Island Expressway (LIE) was closed for more than 15 hours as investigators worked through the night to determine how the massive, deadly car crash occurred yesterday afternoon near eastbound Exit 68 in Suffolk County. The colossal collision involved an 18-wheel tractor-trailer and 35 vehicles, with the tractor-trailer and a number of the vehicles catching fire after the crash. A 68-year old woman was killed, at least two people were airlifted to Stony Brook Hospital and dozens more were transported to area hospitals or treated at the grisly scene of the massive accident.
The tragic collision left a harrowing scene that shocked even veteran emergency responders. Suffolk County Commissioner of Fire Rescue Joe Williams was quoted as saying: "In my 46 years that I've been involved in emergency services, it was the worst scene that I've ever seen in my life. I've never seen devastation like this. We had vehicles that were on fire. We had trucks that were on fire. We had a lot of people still trapped in their cars. We had a lot of citizens that weren't injured helping other citizens." And Gregory Miglino Jr. of the South Country Ambulance service reportedly called the crash 'the worst he's seen in his 22 years on the job.' One truck driver reportedly tied a vehicle to his truck and pulled it away from the scene to prevent it from catching on fire while its driver was still trapped inside.
According to Police, the tractor-trailer, which had been transporting debris from superstorm Sandy, was traveling eastbound on the LIE when it struck a number of vehicles, which led to several chain-reaction crashes. The driver, 42-year-old Raymond Simoneau, reportedly lost control of the rig, but it is unclear what caused him to lose control. Mr. Simoneau was not injured in the crash. No criminal charges have been brought in relation to the crash and the investigation remains ongoing.
Witnesses to the crash and its aftermath called the scene, which spread nearly a half-mile along the LIE, total chaos. The Suffolk County Police re-opened all lanes of the LIE, a major thoroughfare, in time for the morning rush hour today after the scene was investigated and clean-up crews cleared the significant debris overnight.
As investigators reportedly continue working on, amongst other aspects of the crash, determining the sequence of events, the many victims and their families grapple with their injuries and fears. Regardless of when police investigations end and results are released, the massive effects of the epic crash will continue for a long time for many, forever for some. The aftermath of such a tragic crash is an extremely difficult and trying time for the families and victims, especially so close to the holidays. Although fortunate to have their lives and those of their loved ones, the injured victims' and their families' suffer extreme pain and emotional distress that is compounded by immediacy.
Block O'Toole & Murphy is committed to aiding injured victims and their families during these very difficult times. We help families and victims protect their legal rights and recover after tragic accidents. Our clients appreciate the care, attention, sensitivity and expertise we bring to their cases. Block O'Toole & Murphy works not only to maximize our clients' recovery under the law but to bring comfort, support and relief to their sad stories.