1 Dead, 33 Hurt in Massive Pileup in N.Y. State

A tractor-trailer slammed into several cars on the Long Island Expressway, triggering the accident

By Tracie Strahan and Pei-Sze Cheng
|  Thursday, Dec 20, 2012  |  Updated 7:53 AM PDT
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A serious accident near exit 68 of the Long Island Expressway had a portion of the expressway shut down in both directions Wednesday. This is raw aerial footage provided courtesy of News12 Long Island.

Courtesy News12 Long Island

A serious accident near exit 68 of the Long Island Expressway had a portion of the expressway shut down in both directions Wednesday. This is raw aerial footage provided courtesy of News12 Long Island.

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A tractor-trailer hauling debris from Sandy slammed into several cars on a major highway on Long Island in New York on Wednesday afternoon, causing a massive pileup in which one person was killed, police say. 

The truck, driven by 42-year-old Raymond Simoneau of Rockingham, Vt., was going eastbound on the Long Island Expressway when it struck several cars near exit 68 in the town of Shirley just before 3 p.m., authorities say. 

The collision set off a chain-reaction pileup, and a total of 35 vehicles smashed into one another, authorities said. The tractor-trailer and two additional vehicles caught fire.  

One driver described the crash unfolding next to him while he was on the freeway.

"All we heard was crashing behind us, it sounded like thunder," said Jimmy Batjley. "Looking back, all I saw was glass and metal, and they went right past us, at least 40 miles per hour." 

"If you can imagine all the cars were lined up, and [the tractor-trailer] just came right in and just pushed that entire line," said Batjley. He said the tractor-trailer driver was pulled out before the truck burst into flames. 

Aerial footage provided by News12 Long Island showed the trailer partly incinerated at dusk, alongside at least two cars that appeared to be blackened and burned. Multiple other vehicles, including a box truck, were scattered nearby, apparently having collided into one another or the guardrail.

A 68-year-old woman driving a Toyota Camry was killed in the crash, police said. An additional 33 people were injured, including a 57-year-old man who is in serious condition.

Those injured were transported to area hospitals, including Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead, Brookhaven Memorial Hospital in East Patchogue, Stony Brook University Hospital and St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson.

At Peconic Bay, where 18 of the victims were taken, most of the injuries were minor. Three of those hurt were children, and the oldest was 61 years old, according to spokesman Demetrios Kadenas. All but one of the patients were released by Wednesday night. 

The tractor-trailer and several of the vehicles involved in the crash are being impounded for safety checks.

Investigation is ongoing.

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