Tractor-trailer involved in fiery crash was heading to Speonk

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Peconic Bay Medical Center treated 18 victims from the accident on the LIE Wednesday, the hospital’s president said.

A Vermont-trucking company that owns the tractor-trailer involved in Wednesday’s massive pileup on the LIE is telling Suffolk County police investigators the truck was heading to a sand mine on Speonk-Riverhead Road in Speonk, police said.

Representatives with the company, Jewell Transport Inc., of White River Junction, Vt. were not immediately available for comment.

Initial reports stated the truck was heading to somewhere in Riverhead Town.

A Southampton Town spokeswoman said town officials were not yet made aware of where the truck — reportedly carrying a load of Hurricane Sandy debris out of Nasssau County —  was heading to, if it was indeed heading to the town.

A DEC spokeswoman said the agency is looking into the matter.

The 35-vehicle crash Wednesday claimed the life of a 68-year-old Blue Point woman, identified as Christa Zepf, and injured 33 others, including 57-year-old Robert Murphy of Lloyd Harbor who was seriously injured, police said.

The LIE’s eastbound lanes were  closed to traffic overnight between exits 66 and 69, but had reportedly reopened by 7 a.m.

Both sides of the highway were shut down in the hours after the crash.

Sixteen victims, including adults and children who were in car seats at the time of the accident, were treated for non life-threatening injuries after the pileup at Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead.

The rest went to hospitals in Stony Brook, Port Jefferson and East Patchogue, police said.

Two other victims were being evaluated for more serious injuries, he said Wednesday.

The crash happened just west of west of the William Floyd Parkway in Shirley about 2:40 p.m. where the driver of the Jewell Transport-owned tractor-trailer, Raymond Simoneau, 42, of Rockingham, Vt., struck a number of cars, police said.

Newsday reported the truck was heading to a site in Riverhead with Hurricane Sandy debris out of East Meadow.

Neither county nor town officials could confirm Thursday where in town, exactly, the debris was heading.

“Following the initial collision, a chain-reaction crash occurred,” Suffolk police said in a release. “The tractor-trailer, which was carrying storm debris, and two additional vehicles caught fire and were extinguished by fire department personnel.”

Wading River Fire Department sent an ambulance to the scene of the crash to assist, first assistant fire chief Jim Evans said. Riverhead fire officials said they were not called to the accident. In all, five fire departments and EMS workers from 19 ambulance districts responded to the scene.

Click here for a Newsday video and coverage from the scene.

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