EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Two Massachusetts men died Tuesday after their cargo van was crushed between two tractor-trailers on I-195, East Providence Fire Chief Oscar Elmasian confirms.
The crash took place just before 10 a.m. Tuesday in the area of Exit 8 in East Providence. Rhode Island State Police said one of the tractor-trailers and the van had slowed for traffic when the second tractor-trailer crashed into the back of the van, forcing it into the back of the first tractor-trailer.
The driver of the van, Steven Magan, 40, of Palmer, and his passenger, Axel Moran, 38, of Marlboro, were pronounced dead at the scene, according to police.
Eyewitness News confirmed the van was from Metropolitan Staple Corporation out of New Jersey, and discovered that the second tractor trailer truck is owned by Pennsylvania based M&R Transport.
The company owns five vehicles and has five drivers. Prior to this accident, the company trucks had not been involved in any serious accidents in the past two years.
Police said one of the tractor-trailer drivers was taken to the hospital to be treated for non-life-threatening injuries while the second driver was not hurt.
The vehicles leaked gasoline and diesel fuel onto the ground, according to Elmasian, making it difficult for first responders to assist the victims.
Battalion Fire Chief John Kelahan said this is the worst accident he has seen in more than 30 years on the job.
“Just the total magnitude of the whole scene itself was pretty trying,” he said.
Kelahan said for some of the first responders, it was their first day on the job. The department brought in the Critical Incident Stress Team for everyone who responded to the scene.
“Decompressing is a big part of this job,” Kelahan said. “A lot of what we see does affect you, sometimes it takes awhile for it to come to the surface but we kind of keep an eye on things and that’s why we put these measures in place for our members.”
The crash tied up traffic for hours on the westbound side of the highway, while a second minor crash on the eastbound side resulted in additional lane closures for a short amount of time.
The scene was cleared by 3 p.m.
The crash remains under investigation by state police and the state Medical Examiner’s office. State police have not yet said if there will be any citations or charges.