May 17, 2012 6:41 AM
A crash on I-75 in Whitley County backed up traffic for miles, leading to a second fatal accident a couple of hours later.
Police say two semis crashed along southbound I-75 in Whitley County near mile marker one around 1:30 p.m. An Ohio man driving one of the trucks was airlifted to a Knoxville hospital for treatment. James B Hamilton, 62, was listed in stable condition.
The impact spilled several thousand pounds of salami onto the interstate. Cleanup crews worked for nearly three hours to clean the sandwich meat and debris from the roadway.
That accident caused a significant backup along southbound I-75, which led to a fatal five-vehicle crash around 3:30 p.m.
Police say a semi hauling Heinz ketchup struck several vehicles that were slowed or stopped for the first crash.The truck initially hit a Ford pickup and pushed it into a silver van.The semi then crashed into a motor home pulling a trailer that was hauling race cars. The truck finally came to a stop after hitting a second semi. The truck and the trailer went up in flames, fueled by race car fuel.
A passerby pulled the unconscious driver from the semi.
Police say one person died in the crash. Two victims were flown to the University of Tennessee Medical Center, one person was transported by ambulance to Jellico Community Hospital, and five people were uninjured.
Officials have not released the names of any victims.
Brian Folk and his family had to rush to escape the flames.
"My dad's like, 'The trailers on fire. Get out of here,'" Folk said. "It's just hard. My dad's been racing since he was 16, and he's 64 now. He's getting to watch all his cars loaded up on bobcat now. It's a rough time for my brother and I."
Police say it appears the driver of the semi was at fault, but authorities have not filed any charges at this time.
Officials reopened I-75 southbound Wednesday night.