Valhalla, NY -- Traffic on the New York State Thruway is back to normal after a fiery crash killed two people including a state trooper. Several victims were brought to the Westchester County Medical Center following the accident. Tim Fleischer reports.
New York State troopers were out all night long investigating the crash that claimed the lives of a state trooper and another motorist. The accident snarled traffic on the highway for hours.
Witness: "It was really, really bad. We have never seen an accident like this and we've lived here for many years."
That's how witnesses have described the fatal chain reaction on the thruway. Two people are dead and at least six injured. Among those killed was a New York State trooper. There was an orange tarp over his cruiser because it took police hours to remove him. Ironically, he had pulled over to help assist a disabled vehicle.
It happened on the shoulder of the Northbound Thruway, near Mile Square Road. State police say it was around 9:00 p.m, and this is how they think it unfolded:
First, there was a two-car fender bender. A tow truck arrived to hook one of the cars up. Then, the trooper arrived. He was sitting in his Crown Victoria when....
Mike Lepratto, Witness: "Another car, an SUV, hit him from the back and it ignited the tank on the state trooper's car."
The cruiser burst into flames. It slammed into the two vehicles that had been involved in the earlier accident and the tow truck driver. Police believe the other fatality is the tow truck driver.
Witnesses raced to the scene to help and discovered an inferno.
Lepratto: "There was a Yonkers police officer with a shovel trying to smash in the troopers' window. But because of the flames and the ammunition going off inside the car, made it very dangerous."
That trooper has been identified as 31-year-old Robert W. Ambrose. He lives in Pearl River, and has parents in Queens. Apparently, he was a training officer.
At this point in time, investigators are still looking into what caused this accident. The name of the other person who was killed in the incident has not been released.
Raising additional questions are concerns that police department have had about the Ford Crown Victoria automobile, which was type of car that trooper Ambrose was using. Officers claim the car is prone to catch fire and at least a dozen officers across the country have been killed in fiery crashes. It is not know if the trooper's car had been outfitted with a new shield around the gas tank.