A van ran into the back of a box truck on the northbound approach to the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel and erupted in flames yesterday afternoon, trapping a passenger as the driver stood next to the vehicle crying out for help.
The passenger was badly burned and died at the scene, authorities said.
The accident happened about 1:30 p.m. in right lane of Interstate 895, south of the toll plaza, when the 2005 Chevrolet van with Tennessee tags struck the rear of a 2004 Kenworth box truck, said Cpl. Jonathan Green, a spokesman for the Maryland Transportation Authority Police.
The driver of the van, Justin T. Sorrell, 23, of Sparta, Tenn., freed himself and was taken to Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center for treatment of minor injuries, police said. The driver of the truck, Arnold Douglas Lee, 40, of Baltimore, was not hurt, police said.
Passers-by tried in vain to rescue the van's passenger. Baltimore firefighters cut the roof of the van to free the man, whose name was not released. His body was taken to the state medical examiner's office for an autopsy.
About 10 minutes before the accident, traffic was slowed in the northbound lanes because of a disabled vehicle in the tunnel, Green said. Traffic had just begun to flow again before the crash.
The van, registered to Allied Home Medical Inc., almost immediately burst into flames after striking the truck owned by Edward T. Smith & Sons Inc., Green said.
The Maryland Transportation Authority's Collision Reconstruction Unit is investigating the accident, which closed I-895 - the Harbor Tunnel Thruway - for about two hours.