Witnesses, officials describe fiery semi crash on I-40

MADISON COUNTY, Tenn. — A semi-trailer hauling eight vehicles, travelling eastbound on I-40, collided with a bridge Tuesday, causing a massive fire delay.

“One of the steer tires blowed on the front of the vehicle, causing him to lose control and hit the end of the bridge,” Madison County Fire Chief Eric Turner said. “When he made contact with the end of the bridge, the vehicle caught fire, come to rest crossways of the interstate, ended up with the tractor trailer on fire and seven of the eight vehicles on fire.”

Chief Turner says miraculously, there were no injuries to the driver of the semi or any other driver.

Witnesses say it was still a frightening experience to encounter.

“Something like that happens, it happens so quick that you’re just reacting to not get hit and get yourself out of harm’s way,” said Bill Melton.

Texas resident Olivia Sanders was travelling on I-40, on her way to Columbia to her nephew’s wedding, when she had to brake abruptly being directly behind the trailer. She says her life flashed before her eyes.

“I thought I was fixin’ to go to heaven. I really did,” Sanders said. “All I could just think of was, ‘please God protect us, protect me and my boy and protect that man.’ I thought that man was gone.”

Witnesses say their main concern was if the driver was okay. They say normally, a wreck of this magnitude would not have the same outcome as this one did.

“Because, if he didn’t get out, there’s no way he would’ve survived the way the fire was,” Melton said.

“I just thank God that he protected us today,” said Sanders. “He protected a lot of people here today.”

The Tennessee Highway Patrol says one lane of eastbound traffic and the emergency lane reopened around 4:15 Tuesday afternoon.

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