2 Killed When Truck Flips on NJ Highway, Bursts Into Flames: Prosecutor

Two people were killed in a fiery crash on a New Jersey highway Monday evening when a tractor-trailer overturned, trapping a car underneath as both vehicles burst into flames, authorities say.

Essex County prosecutors say that the tractor-trailer flipped onto the car on New Jersey Route 21 in Belleville at about 7:30 p.m. The two vehicles burst into flames, and a third car also crashed but didn't catch fire. 

Two of the passengers in the car that was on fire were pronounced dead at the scene, authorities say. The drivers of the other two vehicles were uninjured.

Witnesses at a shopping plaza across the road said a car cut off the truck and continued on, causing the truck to careen against the guardrail and tip to the side, trapping another car underneath. 

"Somebody cut that truck driver off," said Nicole Decaito, who works in the shopping center. "He was cut off. This accident was not his fault." 

Decaito and other witnesses said they heard a woman screaming in the car, and they saw the truck driver trying to rescue people from the car.

"He was screaming at the top of his lungs, saying 'They're in there, they're in there. Save them, help them, help them,'" said Decaito.

Cellphone video showed the driver trying to get close to the fiery car. 

"The fire was coming back, you could see someone running back and forth to get people out," said witness Charles Davis. "You saw another guy behind him trying to pull him away because the flames started getting bigger." 

The trucking company's owner said the truck driver, headed from Totowa to upstate, is one of his best in the company. He spoke to the driver after the accident. 

"He was very scared, he was shaken. I think he was crying," said Camilo Rubio of GNA Trucking, based in North Bergen. 

The route was shut down overnight while crews investigated and cleared the scene, but the roadway reopened in both directions early Tuesday.

The crash is still under investigation.

-- Checkey Beckford contributed to this report.

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