Fatal NJ Turnpike crash scene had been treated by state crews, not contractors
The New Jersey Turnpike Authority has issued more details on the treatment of an icy stretch of new highway in Cranbury that became the scene of Monday night's fatal, 40-vehicle pileup.
New Jersey State Police said the chain of events that killed Darryll C. Williams, 52, of Bordentown, began when two tractor trailers slowed down to avoid unfolding smash-ups in car and truck lanes and swung out of control on the icy road surface.
Turnpike spokesman Thomas Feeney tells NJ.com that Turnpike employees, not contractors, were responsible for treating the newly expanded area near the Molly Pitcher service area. Fifteen of 21 planned new maintenance positions had been filled, so 15 plows and salt spreaders were on the road Monday night.
Middlesex County Freeholder H. James Polos, a former first aid worker, was heading north and stopped to help those injured in the crash. He tells MyCentralJersey.com the speed limit was posted at 65 MPH and he did not see any salt trucks during his 45-minute drive from Cherry Hill. "I didn't know there was (black) ice until I stepped on the shoulder," Polos said.
New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner Jamie Fox ordered a review of the Turnpike's winter operations following the accident. “The State Police investigation is still underway, however, I believe it is prudent for the Turnpike Authority to conduct a thorough review of last night’s accident as well, including weather conditions and the Turnpike’s winter operations plan and execution, vehicle speed, and other contributing factors,” Fox said. He is also the chairman of the Turnpike Authority.
A scholarship fund has been created in Williams' memory on the website Giveforward.com. He was a wrestler who also played on the football and baseball teams at Bordentowin High School, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, and had just been inducted into the school's Athletics Hall of Fame.
No summonses have been issued in connection with the accidents.