Collisions involving three tractor-trailers, including one hauling gasoline, and four other vehicles caused a fire on Interstate 95 on Tuesday and killed the driver of one big rig and the driver, an adult passenger and two children in a pickup truck, the State Highway Patrol said.
Trooper Will Henning, a patrol spokesman, said four people who were in two other vehicles were taken to hospitals in Chapel Hill and in Florence, S.C., with serious injuries.
The children who died were Sianna Spennati, 1, and Aila Spennati, 4, of Goose Creek, S.C.
They were with Elise Ann Spennati, 32, who was driving the Dodge pickup, and Cole Allen Spennati, 25, Henning said.
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The truck driver who died was Michael Elliott Bricker, 68, of Myrtle Beach, S.C.
The wreck happened about 8 miles north of the North Carolina-South Carolina border in southbound lanes where state Department of Transportation crews were painting new lines on the highway.
According to troopers who investigated, Bricker’s tractor-trailer came into the work zone behind traffic that was slowing. He did not slow enough and hit the back end of the Spennatis’ pickup.
The pickup was shoved into the back of a Ford Explorer, and the Explorer was pushed into the rear of a Ford Escape, troopers determined.
Bricker’s truck, with a Volvo tractor, kept rolling and hit a Freightliner 18-wheeler, setting its load of gasoline on fire.
The Freightliner then hit a third tractor-trailer.
Bricker’s rig went off the side of the interstate and caught fire, troopers said.
The drivers of the other two trucks, Dewey Wayne Harrington, 50, of Bunn Level and Stannie L. Kirkland, 58, of Silvester, Ga., were treated at the scene and released, Henning said.
The wreck closed the Interstate. It reopened at about 1 a.m. Wednesday, according to the N.C. Department of Transportation.
“The fire was contained pretty quickly,” Henning said by phone Tuesday afternoon.
He said a hazmat team was on the scene helping clean up the site.
The crash site was between U.S. 301 and the South Carolina state line, state Department of Transportation spokeswoman Katie Trout said.
To help with traffic issues, NCDOT sent Incident Management Assistance Patrol (IMAP) vehicles from Raleigh and Wilmington until the scene was cleared, said DOT spokesman Steve Abbott.