UNION CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A complicated cleanup got underway Wednesday afternoon after a truck took out three cars, a pole and a fence before careening off an overpass and landing upside down on Route 495 near the Lincoln Tunnel.
Chopper 2 was over the scene in Union City earlier in the day with a vantage point showing the entirety of a chaotic wreck that injured 12 people. Miraculously, none of the injuries were described as life threatening.
The truck at the center of it all belongs to the Union City Department of Public Works. It appeared to travel on 30th Street before crossing over the Palisade Avenue overpass and onto 495 below.
It was a shocking sight for many who rolled past wreckage so mangled people considered it a miracle no one immediately died.
One man named “Marco,” who did not want his face shown on camera, told CBS2’s Dave Carlin he was standing on a section of sidewalk near Palisade Avenue and could see the truck barreling down the street as if its brakes were not working.
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“He lost control. He hit three cars and he had no control and then he jumped up onto the highway,” Marco said, adding, “He don’t know what to do with the car … He was moving his hands, desperate. A medical issue or maybe he lose his brakes.”
Others who saw the crash include a gas station attendant. He spoke to CBS2’s Ali Bauman through a translator.
“[The truck] was coming really fast from that side. He was over-speeding,” the attendant said. “He hit the cars and then drove straight through the thing, taking off a few people.”
Zachary Ramshur also saw the crash.
“It was like boom, boom. It went over and it flew over,” Ramshur said.
At least one vehicle on 30th Street was severely damaged. Further west on 495 a bus appeared to be damaged.
Leading the investigation is the Hudson County Regional Collision Unit. An exact cause of the crash was not immediately determined.
Route 495 and the Lincoln Tunnel finally reopened around 7 p.m. after being closed in both directions for hours. Westbound traffic out of the Lincoln Tunnel had been detoured onto local streets, CBS2’s Ali Bauman reported.
Maria Racciatti of Union City said she was on the phone with her husband who was on a bus trying to get through the tunnel into Manhattan but traffic was at standstill.
“It’s just the Fourth of July when everybody should be happy and cheering and everything. I hope everything is OK,” Racciatti said.
All bus service from the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City was suspended as a result of the crash.
The accident created a traffic nightmare for drivers heading into the Lincoln Tunnel, compounding frustrations in an area that is normally packed on a holiday weekend get-away day, CBS2’s Christina Fan reported.
Police officers put out signs several blocks north of the tunnel, warning drivers of the change ahead. However, few read them and later tried to keep their cool in bumper-to-bumper traffic. When Fan delivered the reason for their long delay, faces turned sour.
In Manhattan, traffic cops filled the intersections in Midtown, waving on cars as drivers tried to decide what alternate route to take.
“I’m going to take the [George] Washington bridge,” one person said.
“I’m going to turn around and take Route 9,” another added.
Fan drove over to the West Side Highway, where many people decided to detour to. But as expected, traffic was jammed there as well.
“I don’t know what to do. We’re going to take a time out,” one driver said.
Drivers said no matter what tunnel or bridge they considered, none of the alternatives were ideal.