A tractor-trailer carrying a load of shredded paper overturned on the Capital Beltway yesterday afternoon, injuring two persons and paralyzing evening rush hour traffic on a 10-mile stretch of the highway in Maryland.
The accident caused traffic tie-ups far past the usual end of the rush hour, and the beltway's eastbound inner loop through Montgomery County remained closed until county police, several towing companies and state highway crews were able to remove the wreckage shortly before 1 a.m. today.
The truck, which overturned at 2:44 p.m. at the Northwest Branch bridge, brought eastbound traffic on the beltway between the bridge and River Road to a three-hour standstill.
State police compared the traffic jam--which grew progressively worse as severe thunderstorms swept the area--to the July 21 crash on the Cabin John Bridge that halted an estimated 20,000 motorists.
"There's too much traffic and not enough roads," said State Police 1st Lt. John O. Himmelmann. Westbound traffic on the outer loop of the beltway also slowed to a crawl in the mile between the accident site and Interstate 95, Himmelmann added.
Charles L. Green, 46, of Reisterstown, Md., driver of the tractor-trailer that police said had collided with a small car on the Northwest Branch bridge, underwent at least three hours of surgery last night at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, a hospital spokeswoman said. Green, who was trapped inside his cab for about 15 minutes, suffered multiple injuries.
Also injured in the crash was Zenka Sediby of Washington, a passenger in the car that collided with Green's truck. Sediby was listed in stable condition with minor injuries at Washington Adventist Hospital. Her husband, the driver of the car, was examined and released.
The tractor-trailer crash was the second of two major accidents on the beltway yesterday, police said. Earlier in the day, a truck on the outer loop of the highway struck the rear of a dump truck near Riggs Road in College Park, State Police Sgt. Chuck Cave said.
Injured in the 12:15 p.m. collision were Antonio Oliver, 23, of Crownsville, Md., and his passenger, identified as Clark Daniels, 21, of Baltimore, Cave said.
At approximately 4 p.m., after the day's second major accident, Montgomery County police sealed off all access ramps to the inner loop of the beltway in the county.
Even so, by 5 p.m., traffic already was backed up to River Road on the inner loop, police said. Work crews trying to unload the truck's cargo were hampered by heavy rains that struck early in the evening, police said.