RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A family of four died when they were hit by a tractor-trailer in a fiery crash that also killed the truck driver and closed a major North Carolina interstate for hours, authorities said Wednesday.
A North Carolina Highway Patrol news release said the six-vehicle wreck happened Tuesday afternoon when the Volvo tanker truck was heading south toward a work zone where crews were painting Interstate 95 near the South Carolina state line. Authorities say the tanker failed to reduce speed, colliding with a pickup truck. The pickup truck was pushed forward, causing a chain-reaction crash with two more SUVs.
The Volvo tanker then struck another tractor-trailer, which was pushed into a third commercial truck. Gasoline in the tanker ignited, and the Volvo careened onto the shoulder and caught fire.
The Highway Patrol on Wednesday identified the family killed in the pickup as a mother, father and two daughters from Goose Creek, South Carolina. Their names were: 32-year-old Elise Ann Spennati, 25-year-old Cole Allen Spennati, 1-year-old Sianna Spennati and 4-year-old Aila Spennati.
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The tractor-trailer driver was identified as 68-year-old Michael Elliott Bricker of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Interstate 95 was closed in both directions for hours, snarling traffic for miles before all lanes reopened early Wednesday.
Video from television news helicopters Tuesday afternoon showed two of the tractor-trailers with mangled cabs at the scene southwest of Lumberton, along with what appeared to be a charred SUV. Footage captured by drivers showed fires blazing and thick black smoke wafting into the air.
Authorities said the fire was extinguished quickly, but crews had to survey the road to make sure it was safe to reopen.
Three people in a Ford Explorer and the driver of a Ford Escape were flown to hospitals with serious injuries, but were reported in stable condition Wednesday. The drivers of two of the other tractor-trailers were treated and released at the scene.
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This story has been corrected to show the age of Cole Allen Spennati is 25, not 24.