Three people were injured and traffic was backed up for at least three miles today after a crash involving two tractor-trailers, a station wagon and a smaller truck hauling plants on Interstate 95 south of White Marsh.
Two of the injured were taken by ambulance to the Maryland Shock-Trauma Center in Baltimore. The third victim was taken to Franklin Square Hospital. The names of the victims were not released by State Police.
A tractor-trailer driver, who was not injured, was quoted as saying he was heading southbound on I-95 about 5:45 a.m. when "I saw lights and just started hitting things."
State Police said the accident occurred after a rear tire on the station wagon went flat. The driver was traveling about 30 mph in the right lane next to the slow lane when a tractor-trailer owned by Northeast Motor Freight struck the rear of the car.
The plant truck struck the tractor-trailer, police said, and a second tractor-trailer sideswiped the plant truck.
The minimum speed on I-95 is 40 mph, but the flat tire may not have allowed the station wagon driver to travel any faster, police said.
By 9 a.m., a large traffic backup created by the accident -- about a mile north of the Interstate 695 interchange -- was easing. For about two hours, the tie-up had stretched two miles north of White Marsh Boulevard.
Other major southbound arteries, including U.S. 1, Md. 7 and U.S. 40, also were tied up at the height of the morning rush hour.
After the crash, the plant truck, with a placard reading Alfred B. Cox of Perkasie, Pa., was sitting in the fast lane. The vehicle's crumpled cab and part of its bed were burned.
Trooper First Class Dana Carter said a quick-thinking passer-by pulled the driver from the wreckage.
"He probably saved his life," Trooper Carter said.
Several hundred yards south of the plant truck, the wreckage of a tractor-trailer sat in the shoulder next to the fast lane.
The rig's cab broke off in the crash and jumped the Jersey barrier wall dividing the south and northbound lanes. The cab landed half on the shoulder and half in the northbound fast lane.
The tractor-trailer driver was trapped in the cab for about 15 minutes before he was extracted by emergency workers.
Trooper Carter said none of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening.
The four southbound lanes reopened about 7:45 a.m. Two northbound lanes had been temporarily closed.