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Tractor-Trailer Slams Into Hutchinson River Parkway Overpass, Causes Major Jam

RYE BROOK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Drivers on the Hutchinson River Parkway were brought to a standstill all the way through the evening rush Tuesday, as it took seven hours to clean up the mess when a truck hit an overpass and burst into flames.

The crash happened on the northbound side of the highway near King Street in Rye Brook. The truck struck a bridge at the scene, at Exit 27 on the New York-Connecticut state line.

The big rig burst into flames – fueled in part by its cargo of liquid margarine.

The traffic on the northbound side was completely shut down after the crash and was being diverted at the previous exit. The shutdown continued through the evening rush, but the expressway later reopened.

And CBS 2's Tony Aiello was searching for answers Tuesday night on why the truck was on the parkway in the first place.

"I'm getting sick of these drivers – especially these truck drivers -- not knowing where they're going," said driver Derw Liscinsky.

The driver involved in the crash, Ishad Knight, had little to say to CBS 2's Aiello.

"I don't know, man," Knight said. "It's just like an honest mistake, man."

But earlier, the driver was on the phone doing what Aiello said was likely some serious explaining, while commuters caught in traffic fumed.

"It's stupidity," said driver Don Gamble.

Westchester County police said the trucker was not using a commercial GPS that would have steered him off the parkway – where trucks are banned.

Instead, Knight told police he was investigating using Google Maps on his smartphone.

"I guess his phone isn't so smart," remarked Sarah Nethercott of Rye Brook.

People who live near the scene have grown accustomed to the disruption. The county said bridge strikes have actually dropped 50 percent in two years.

"My house shakes every time a truck hits the bridge," one woman said.

Trucks striking parkway overpasses, particularly at the King Street Bridge, have been a major problem in Westchester County in recent years, but the number of crashes has been cut drastically since large warnings were painted on the pavement. Occasionally, out-of-state truckers following GPS still stray and get stuck.

Westchester County police said the number of bridge crashes has actually dropped 50 percent in two years. But the low bridge alerts did not seem to work Tuesday, Aiello reported.

"You've got to pay attention, don't you?" Aiello said to Knight.

"No, it's not that, bro," Knight replied.

"Well, what is it if you're not paying attention?" Aiello said.

Knight will face a myriad of motor vehicle charges, Aiello reported.

Meanwhile, the state Department of Transportation is testing an electronic detection system along the Hutchinson River Parkway. The system uses an infrared beam to detect tall trucks and trigger an electronic warning signal.

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