TEWKSBURY — The investigation into a fatal tractor trailer crash and fire on Thursday lasted into the afternoon rush, with only one lane getting through approaching 5 p.m.

NJ State Police spokesman Trooper Alejandro Goez said a box truck was still laying on the median hours after it hit a center barrier, flipped on its side and caught fire around 7:15 a.m. at exit NO. 24 for Route 523 in Tewksbury.

Goez said the driver, Essam Fawaz, 52, of Middlesex, who drove for Beltway Transportation Logistics and Pallet Systems of South Plainfield, died in the crash.

Although all westbound lanes were opened around 9:30 a.m., a rubbernecking delay back to at least Route 287 developed for the afternoon drive. A multi-mile eastbound delay formed as traffic tried to squeeze into one lane and the shoulder eastbound.

Route 22 is a viable alternative for eastbound commuters according to New Jersey Fast Traffic's Bob Williams.

Some of the truck's fuel leaked into Rockaway Creek but was cleaned up by emergency crews from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

Video taken of the Route 78 crash by passing commuter Saul Marques posted on his Facebook page shows a tractor trailer on its side and on fire in the early stages of the crash Thursday morning

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