The man killed in an early Thursday wreck on southbound I-95 has been identified. The wreck caused a fiery explosion and tied up traffic throughout the area for hours.
A tractor-trailer hauling cars was traveling south of Richmond Hill when it was struck by a fuel tanker at 3:40 a.m., according to Georgia State Trooper First Class Henry Gilliard.
Gilliard said the tractor trailer had just merged onto the interstate from Hwy. 17.
“The tanker just came up from behind, hit him and burst into flames. The tanker was carrying gasoline,” he said.
The driver of the fuel tanker, 28-year-old David Allen McGrath of Brunswick, died at the scene.
“For some reason, he just didn’t react,” Gilliard said. “There were no skid marks or anything … We don’t know if he was sleeping or just distracted in some other way.”
The driver of the tractor trailer, 39-year-old Eric Flores of Brandon, Fla., was not injured.
Gilliard said the fire from the explosion was so intense it took a couple of hours and the foam truck from Fort Stewart to put it out. Fire and EMS departments from Richmond Hill and Bryan County also responded to the scene.
Lt. Paul Cosper, a spokesman for the Georgia State Patrol, told the Associated Press the fire even damaged the highway.
“The fire was so hot that some of the pavement melted,” he said.
By 9 a.m. Thursday, the northbound lanes of I-95 were open, but the southbound lanes remained closed, forcing traffic to detour from Exit 87 in Richmond Hill to Exit 76 in Liberty County along Hwy. 17 and leaving cars backed up for hours.
By the end of the day, Gilliard said only one southbound lane remained closed but would reopen once the Georgia Department of Transportation finished repainting the lane.