PARAMUS, New Jersey (WABC) -- A steel bar that spilled off a flatbed truck in a crash on Route 17 in Paramus struck a vehicle, sending the driver to the hospital.
The steel fell during a collision with another truck in the northbound lanes just before 6 a.m. on Wednesday.
Some of the steel spilled into the southbound lanes, and one piece struck the roof of a vehicle.
According to Paramus police, the incident began when a tractor-trailer carrying home tiles driven by a 63-year-old Jersey City man became disabled in the center lane just north of Farview Avenue.
The driver said he was slowing for traffic when the vehicle's brakes locked up.
A tractor driven by a 50-year-old Brooklyn man carrying a steel beam load merged into the center lane and struck the rear of the tile truck and then the center median, causing the steel beam load to dislodge and spill all over the northbound lanes of Route 17.
"I'm driving and I see the ramp and he is coming to pass," the tractor-trailer driver Antonio told North Jersey.com. "And I moved in the middle line. When I moved in the middle line, the truck got stuck. I had no time to move to the right side because I see another car and I tried to move to the left side but it's too late."
One beam, weighing about 2,500 pounds, came across the divider, hitting a Toyota Corolla driving south on Route 17.
The driver of the Corolla was extricated and suffered serious, but non-life threatening injuries. He is listed in fair condition at Hackensack University Medical Center.
The wife of the victim says he's a retired NYPD officer who suffered a broken leg, and the family is still shaken following the accident.
A steal beam also struck a Ford Escort driven by a 48-year-old man from Midland Park, N.J., who suffered chest and back pain.
Crews diverted traffic and removed the steel from blocking the highway, and removed the jack-knifed tractor-trailer.
Route 17 was closed in both directions for 90 minutes after the accident, but all southbound lanes reopened after the vehicle that was struck by the steel beam was towed away.
Northbound lanes reopened at 9:45 a.m. after the beams were removed from the roadway.
(Story and interview with tractor-trailer driver courtesy Amy Newman/NorthJersey.com)