Texas crash kills trucker; fire damages highway

By Kimberely Lennard, Land Line staff writer | Thursday, October 18, 2012

A deadly crash involving two tractor-trailers near Ross, TX, Wednesday night resulted in a fire that burned so hot Interstate 35 was closed until Thursday afternoon.

Martin Edgar, 48, of El Paso, was driving an Empire Truck Lines tractor-trailer loaded with Corona beer northbound on I-35 when he encountered slow traffic in a construction zone. He had slowed down to 10-15 miles per hour and turned on his flashers, Trooper D.L. Wilson of the Texas Department of Public Safety told Land Line.

A second tractor-trailer driven by Prek Gjokaj, 42, of Sterling Heights, MI, rear ended Edgar’s trailer at highway speed, which is posted at 70 mph. Wilson said Gjokaj never hit the brakes.

The collision resulted in a “massive fireball” that engulfed the first trailer, as well as the second tractor and trailer.

Gjokaj was killed in the crash. Edgar was treated and released from the hospital.

Gjokaj was hauling aluminum engine parts from Michigan, which melted onto the pavement. The Texas Department of Transportation had to remill and overlay the pavement. The outside lane of the interstate reopened at 7 a.m. and both lanes were open around noon.

The investigation is ongoing.

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