The body recovered from the wreckage of the Interstate 95 collapse in Philadelphia was identified by officials Tuesday as the driver of the truck that crashed underneath the freeway and ignited a fire.
The truck driver, Nathan Moody, died of blunt trauma of head, inhalation and thermal injuries, Philadelphia Department of Health spokesperson James Garrow told CNN.
Moody was a 53-year-old father of three and a career truck driver, according to his cousin Isaac Moody.
“Truck driving meant everything to him, that was his livelihood,” Isaac Moody told CNN in an interview Monday afternoon.
The tanker truck was carrying 8,500 gallons of gasoline when it crashed Sunday and went up in flames underneath the I-95, authorities said. A section of the overhead northbound lanes of the freeway then collapsed on top it.
The truck had gone through an off-ramp, fell onto its side while trying to go around a curve, slammed into a wall and ignited a fire around 6:30 a.m., Pennsylvania Transportation Secretary Mike Carroll said Monday.
Moody’s family had heard of the crash and immediately started calling him, but grew worried as their calls went unanswered, Isaac Moody said.
A state trooper then came by Monday, saying that a badly burned body was pulled from the wreckage, and requested dental records to help identify the person, Isaac Moody said.
The mangled and charred wreckage of the truck was hauled away Monday while crews with heavy equipment worked in the rubble of the collapse. Demolition is expected to take four to five days, according to Carroll.
As crews work around-the-clock to demolish the crumbled section of the I-95, officials warn it could take months to repair the damage to the critical East Coast artery.
Carroll said he and Gov. Josh Shapiro will lay out plans to repair the highway. “The governor and I are prepared tomorrow to provide that kind of detail,” Carroll said at a news conference Tuesday at the collapse site.
US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg also visited the site of the collapse Tuesday. He told reporters that his agency will help provide “every resource that is needed” to help local officials address the damage.
Buttigieg described the “outsized impact” on commuters and goods movement in the area. The highway typically carries about 160,000 vehicles through Philadelphia daily.
About 8% of those vehicles are trucks that will now need to take longer, more costly routes, Buttigieg said. “That is a lot of America’s GDP moving along that road every day,” he said.
Buttigieg said his department is making contact with Google and Waze to optimize traffic information reaching commuters.
The fire caused a northbound stretch of the interstate to fall on the truck, authorities said. Southbound lanes were also compromised, officials have said, and need to be repaired. The primary detour is about 23 miles using state or interstate roads, local transportation officials said.
The National Transportation Safety Board said it’s begun its investigation and the tanker truck will be an initial focus.
The company that owns the truck has been in contact with officials and is complying with state police, officials said. State police would not identify the company.
Buttigieg has said his agency is prepared to help local officials swiftly address the extensive disruption caused by the collapse. “To be clear, swiftly is not going to be overnight,” Buttigieg told reporters Monday at an event hosted by the American Council of Engineering Companies. “We’re talking about major structural work.”
I-95 collapse detours
The governor issued a disaster declaration Monday, saying it will allow the state to dip into federal funds and cut red tape to expedite repairs. The proclamation makes $7 million in state funds immediately available for the reconstruction – though the total cost of the mammoth project remains unclear.
Shapiro also spoke with President Joe Biden on Monday, “who reaffirmed the federal government’s commitment to provide whatever resources are needed to repair I-95 safely and efficiently,” the governor’s office said.
The state’s transportation department said a timeline for the rebuilding work would be released after engineers complete a review.
“Crews will work around the clock to ensure that demolition and reconstruction occurs quickly and efficiently, and that the roadway will reopen as soon as possible,” the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation said.
As machinery towed pieces of the crumbled highway away, a team of federal investigators was beginning to examine the tanker truck fire and how it led to the highway collapse, NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy told CNN on Monday.
The tanker was carrying gasoline bound for delivery at a local Wawa gas station.
“We have to get in and see what we think happened with the tanker truck,” Homendy said. “There are lots of different scenarios.”
Investigators might also need to examine the structural makeup of the bridge, said Homendy.
Pennsylvania State Police said Monday that officials will not launch a criminal investigation into the collapse.
Shortly before the collapse, Mark Fusetti was driving south on I-95 in Philadelphia and began filming when he saw plumes of dark smoke.
Fusetti’s cell phone footage appears to show his car and other vehicles driving over a “dip” along I-95 as smoke billows from under both sides of the highway.
“I realized what happened when I looked in my rearview mirror. I see 95 – all of the cars stopping and then I learned, shortly after that the road had just collapsed and what was really going on,” Fusetti told CNN’s Jim Acosta on Sunday.
Along with the smoke and fire under the highway, there were also explosions caused by “runoff of maybe some fuel or gas lines that could have been compromised by the accident,” said Philadelphia Fire Department Battalion Chief Derek Bowmer.
The collapsed roadway is one of the busiest interstates in the city – a critical East Coast thoroughfare that officials say supports Pennsylvania’s economy.
Restoring the highway will likely take months, Shapiro said, adding that his office was looking into “alternatives to connect the roadway beyond detours.”
The impacts could ripple across the state and the larger northeast. Buttigieg said the incident was “causing what we know will be extensive disruption for the movement of people and goods through that region.”
He called it “a cruel reminder of the importance of our infrastructure,” while at the gathering of the American Council of Engineering Companies on Monday.
Residents were warned to expect delays to trash collection and bus routes in the area. All lanes of I-95 are closed between the Woodhaven and Aramingo exits, the city of Philadelphia said.
Monday morning commuters were forced to find new routes to work, with traffic impacts stretching beyond just I-95.
“You don’t realize how much that cripples the city,” resident Ruth Acker told CNN affiliate WPVI.
“I was supposed to go to work. Stopped at Wawa – made a mistake – 45-minute detour just to get to Wawa,” commuter Danny Rodriguez told WPVI.
Officials from New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland have helped manage I-95 traffic in the wake of the collapse, Carroll said Monday.
The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority said it added extra capacity and service to other transportation routes and was evaluating all options to assist travelers as they work around the highway collapse.
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