Truck driver critical after tanker fire

November 21, 2008 8:05:06 AM PST
A truck driver from Queens remains in critical but stable condition -- after his tanker truck overturned in an explosive crash on the New Jersey Turnpike. State police say two good Samaritans smothered the flames as the trucker burned during the incident.

The Samaritans were following the truck in two separate vehicles.

Newscopter 7 was live over the accident on the ramp for Route 3 around 3:00 p.m. on Thursday.

Plumes of black smoke could be seen rising from the scene of the crash miles away. The tanker was engulfed in flames.

The truck driver was identified as Rajinder Singh, 33, from Queens. He works for RS Oil Company out of Lyndhurst, New Jersey.

State police say the truck was carrying 8,500 gallons of gasoline.

Investigators said the tanker failed to negotiate the curve on the ramp, fell over on its right and immediately caught fire.

Singh climbed out of the cab, but he caught fire in the process.

A woman, identified as Angelica Mercado, put out the fire with her coat, put him in her car and drove him to University Hospital in Newark. The nursing student says he gave her phone numbers of releatives to call.

He was admitted with second and third degree burns over 40-percent of his body, He was listed in critical but stable condition.

The fire was extinguished shortly after 4:30 p.m.

The crash snarled rush-hour traffic on the northbound turnpike at exit 16W for Route 3.

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