Overnight accident on I-40 snarls traffic - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Overnight accident on I-40 snarls traffic

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A TDOT SmartWay camera captured this image of traffic backing up due to the closure of the flyover. A TDOT SmartWay camera captured this image of traffic backing up due to the closure of the flyover.
Flames and smoke poured from the tanker. Flames and smoke poured from the tanker.
Firefighters worked for nearly 30 minutes to extinguish the fire at the scene of the crash. Firefighters worked for nearly 30 minutes to extinguish the fire at the scene of the crash.

By Ben Watson - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A four car accident involving two tractor trailers and two cars created major headaches for many Memphis drivers during the Wednesday morning commute.

The accident happened around 2:30am on I-40, west of Sycamore View Road on the flyover.  According to investigators, it was caused when a 2004 Infiniti G35, driven by a 37-year-old woman, traveled the wrong direction into the southbound lanes of I-40, striking a tanker truck.  The car then ran into the driver side of a second tractor trailer traveling southbound on I-40.

During the crash, debris from the vehicles struck a 1997 Honda Accord, which was also traveling southbound on I-40.

After she crashed, emergency crews rescued the driver of the Infinity from her car.

"The small passenger vehicle had a female passenger who was trapped," said Lt. Wayne Cook of the Memphis Fire Department. "The Memphis Fire Department did perform vehicle extraction."

The woman was transported to The MED in critical condition.  No other injuries were reported.

Meanwhile, a hazmat team was called and extra equipment was brought in to put out the burning tractor trailer - a tanker - which had been carrying hazardous chemicals not long before the accident.

While the blaze was brought under control in minutes, re-opening the fly-over to traffic took a lot longer.  The roadway finally opened eight hours after the accident, when emergency workers finally got the area cleaned up enough for traffic to resume.

Police said the driver of the Infinity was found to be intoxicated, and was issued a misdemeanor citation for Driving Under the Influence, Reckless Driving, Driving While License Suspended/Revoked/Canceled, and Violation of Financial Responsibility.

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