Two tractor-trailers were involved in a dramatic crash on Route 17 in Paramus Wednesday morning, spurring extensive delays on the high-trafficked span ahead of the morning commute.
The 63-year-old driver of one of the tractor-trailers told police his brakes locked as he slowed for traffic in the center northbound lane of the highway near Farview Avenue, authorities said. The truck became disabled and he turned on his hazard lights and called for assistance.
Another tractor-trailer, this one carrying a steel beam load weighing thousands of pounds, moved to the center lane of the highway around the same time. The 50-year-old driver tried to avoid the stalled truck with a quick shift to the left lane but hit the rear of the cargo bed and then the center concrete median.
The impact caused the steel beams to dislodge and they spilled all over the northbound lanes of the road, police said. One of the beams, weighing about 2,500 pounds, came across the concrete divider and hit a 2014 Toyota traveling on the opposite lane of the highway. Footage from Chopper 4 showed the Toyota completely demolished. The driver of the Toyota, a 56-year-old man from Thiells, New York, was seriously hurt but is expected to live.
A steel beam also hit a 2005 Ford moving on the southbound side of the highway. The 48-year-old driver complained of chest and back pain.
The busy span was closed in both directions at the accident site for hours Wednesday morning as crews worked to remove the steel, which was completely blocking the northbound side of the highway. The southbound lanes reopened shortly before 8 a.m. and the northbound lanes around 9:40 a.m.
The investigation is ongoing.