Crews faced a massive cleanup and highway repair project after the deadly late-night crash, but lanes were reopened to traffic by late Thursday morning. (Photo by John Carroll)
ELM MOTT (October 18, 2012)—The Department of Public Safety Thursday identified the truck driver who died in a fiery late-night crash on Interstate 35 north of Waco that closed down the northbound lanes of the highway for hours as Prek Gjokaj, 42, of Sterling Heights, Mich.
The accident happened at around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday when an 18-wheeler driven by Martin Oscar Edgar, 48, of El Paso slowed because of a closed lane in a construction zone and Gjokaj was unable to stop before his rig slammed into the trailer of Edgar’s truck.
The cab of the second truck burst into flames and Gjokaj was trapped inside, authorities said.
An unidentified construction worker suffered burns to his hands when he tried unsuccessfully to pull Gjokaj from the burning cab.
Gjokaj was pronounced dead at the scene.
Edgar was flown to Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries, authorities said.
One of the trucks was carrying aluminum engine parts, which burned with such intensity the surface of the highway was damaged to a depth of 1-1/2 inches, Texas Department of Transportation spokesman Ken Roberts said.
Authorities said the damage could take several days to repair, but by late Thursday morning, both northbound lanes of the highway had been reopened.