Driving the wrong way, the car collided head on with another vehicle and burst into flames.
Two Good Samaritan motorists pulled over and yanked the driver out of the flaming car. That person was rushed by helicopter to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick with critical injuries.
Occupants of two other vehicles were treated for less serious injuries.
It was not immediately known why the vehicle initially swerved into oncoming traffic.
The accident closed the two right lanes of the northbound express lanes. Traffic was backed up for miles.