I-85 reopens after driver killed in massive wreck in Gastonia - | WBTV Charlotte

I-85 reopens after driver killed in massive wreck in Gastonia

GASTONIA, NC (WBTV) - I-85 reopened just before the Thursday afternoon rush hour after a driver was killed when two semi trucks collided more than 14 hours earlier.

The southbound lanes of I-85 were closed since 2 am and caused traffic headaches all day. The wreck happened just before 2 am and created a giant explosion and the entire tractor trailer was burned.

One driver was killed in the crash when one semi truck rear-ended another one going southbound around exit 17, said Gastonia Police.

The second truck caught fire and nearly burned down to the wheels.

The driver the second truck has been identified as Eric Fitzgerald Lee, 45, of Greenville, SC. He worked for Greenwood Motor Lines, Inc.

The driver of the other truck is Tomas Herrera Jr., 47, of San Benito, Tx. He was driving for Saga Freight Logistics, LLE and was treated and released from the hospital.

Traffic was diverted off the freeway at 321, and rerouted on Highway 74.

"We were working in the warehouse, and heard a loud explosion."  Stacy Heavner works the graveyard shift for a company that makes semi trucks.  What he saw was beyond his imagination.

"We heard another (second) large explosion." he said.  "Approximately five minutes later, we saw the smoke and flames and then we saw the fire trucks."

Heavner describes the flames as being as high as a four story building.

"All we could do was to see the flames come up over the trees on I-85."

There was severe damage to the first truck.

State Highway Patrol has taken over the investigation. No charges are being filed at this time.

Copyright WBTV 2011. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly