ROBBINSVILLE — A trucker died in a crash on the southbound New Jersey Turnpike Tuesday afternoon in one of two incidents near Exit 7A that caused miles of traffic delays during the afternoon commute.

State Police Trooper Brandi Slota said a Western Star truck pulling a flatbed trailer was rear-ended by a Kenworth truck hauling an enclosed trailer in the southbound outer lanes around 2:30 p.m. The Western Star's trailer went into a concrete traffic barrier on the right side of the road and a guardrail on the left side, causing it to spill a load of sheetrock onto the right outer lanes.

The driver of the Western Star, Wilbert Normand, 50, of Wilmington, Delaware, died.

All the outer lanes were closed for several hours with traffic squeezing by on the shoulder causing delays of approximately 13 miles starting at Exit 8A in Jamesburg.

Normand's death was the second fatal crash on the Turnpike in Mercer County and the tenth for the entire roadway.

Work van fire in the southbound inner lanes near Exit 7A in Robbinsville 5/10/22
Work van fire in the southbound inner lanes near Exit 7A in Robbinsville 5/10/22 (MidJersey.news)
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No relief in the inner lanes

Around 3:20 p.m., a work van caught fire in the same area on the shoulder of the inner lanes, according to State Police.  Acetylene and oxygen tanks may have been exploding inside, according to MidJersey.news.

The fire sent a column of black smoke into the air and caused further delays as drivers slowed to look at the fire as well as the crash in the outer lanes.

Dan Alexander is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at dan.alexander@townsquaremedia.com

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