One killed in semi-truck explosion; overpass closed

JONESBORO, Ark. – A driver of a semi-truck which exploded into flames hot enough to cause structural damage to a concrete overpass was presumed dead, the Jonesboro Police Chief said in a statement to media Tuesday.

The victim of a one-vehicle accident on Interstate 555 Tuesday morning has been identified as Jackie Becker, 57, of Jonesboro, JPD said in a news release. Becker was the driver of a tractor-trailer rig that was traveling northbound on I-555 when it struck a bridge support for Harrisburg Road overpass and burst into flames. 

Troopers from Arkansas State Police Troop C headquartered in Jonesboro are investigating the accident. The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department is inspecting the bridge and will develop a plan for the necessary road repairs.

The southbound two lanes of I-555 have been re-opened but the northbound lanes will be detoured around the overpass for the time being. Motorists should exercise extreme caution and expect delays when traveling in this area.

Just before 9 a.m., reports began coming in of a serious accident and numerous explosions being both heard and felt, coming from the Harrisburg Road overpass on I-555. The Interstate, which bypasses Jonesboro, is the main thoroughfare for traffic through the county. However, the primary route was shut down due to the danger at the scene.

In addition, the overpass of Harrisburg Road over I-555 was severely damaged. Concrete support structures were falling off of the bridge which authorities called unstable. JPD Chief Rick Elliott said it would be closed until further notice and said it may have to be rebuilt, noting it was a decision the highway department would reach.

Southbound traffic was reopened as of 10:20 a.m. Tuesday morning but northbound traffic, the lane where the truck wrecked into the overpass, was still shut down.

Photos courtesy Paul Holmes, JPD

Video from Matthew Harden; Featured photo circulating on Facebook, original creator unknown (contact us for credit).

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