Kentucky Local News, Weather, Sports | Lexington, KY | WKYT

I-75 back open after deadly, fiery crash

By: Tim Johnston Email
By: Tim Johnston Email

Update: State Police tell WKYT that I-75, just north of the Tennessee state line in Whitley County, is back open after a deadly multi-car crash

Original Story:
Drivers were forced to exit Interstate-75, at exit 11, but what they couldn't see was the fiery mess that laid just a few miles ahead.

"There was debris all over the road. It was a pretty horrific sight," described Kentucky State Trooper Shane Jacobs.

On the interstate at mile-marker four, around 3:30 in the afternoon, a debris field covered roughly a quarter mile after a semi-truck plowed into a pickup, then hit a van, an RV, and a second semi-truck. The accident killed one person and injured three others, including one victim who had to be flown to the University of Tennessee Hospital.

This deadly crash happened in the traffic backup, caused by an earlier crash several miles down the road.

"It's probably one of the worst collisions I've ever (seen)," added Trooper Jacobs.

Brian Folk was behind the wheel of the RV, inside his family and friends from Illinois were on their way to Bristol, Tennessee. Behind the big camper, was a trailer loaded with three dragsters, an old muscle car, and enough racing fuel to cause a massive fireball.

"It sounded like a land mine going off every one minute," said Folk of the explosions when the tires and fuel tanks blew up.

Moments after the accident, the men had to kick open the trailer door to get away.

"My head hit the back of the seat so hard, then it whip-lashed me to the steering wheel. I looked to the right, and my dad said, 'Get out! The trailer is on fire!" recalled Folk.

A mangled mess is all that's left of their trailer.

"All my dad's hard work for all those years, and he gets to watch it be loaded up with a bobcat," said Folk, who added his trip is over and that he's heading back home.

Meanwhile, the semi-truck in front of Folk's RV was full of ketchup packets, but the crash sparked a fire in the cab.

A man who lives near I-75 said he heard the loud explosions and came running. Once he saw the the second semi, he raced over to pull out the driver who had been pinned inside.

The damage was intense for Folk, and the others, but knowing that they survived this deadly wreck was even more overwhelming.

The Kentucky State Police have not released the names of any of the victims, at this time. They say the body of the victim killed in the crash has been sent to the State Medical Examiner's office.

Investigators were hoping to have the interstate back open by midnight.


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