Five hours after
one semi sideswiped another on eastbound I-94 in Burns Harbor, traffic was
“still a disaster,” with motorists being diverted onto U.S. Highway 20, the
Burns Harbor Fire Department reported at 9 a.m. today.
According to the
Indiana State Police, at 3:43 a.m. trucker Radmilo Samardzio, 70, of
Ballwin, Mo., was eastbound on I-94 when he pulled into the “gore area”--the
striped triangle separating mainline I-94 from the Burns Harbor exit
ramp--to open a bottle of water. Samardzio advised police that he activated
his emergency hazard lights.
was then struck, however, by a second semi, operated by Steven S. Dare, 57,
of Hudsonville, Mich., who advised police that, while reaching for something
on his passenger’s seat, he began to drift off the roadway.
collision, Dare’s rig continued eastbound until it crashed into the concrete
median wall, police said.
trailers of both rigs split open, spilling Samardzio’s load of cocoa powder
and Dare’s of lithium batteries across all lanes, police said.
And as Burns Harbor
Deputy Fire Chief Rob Wesley told the Chesterton Tribune, cocoa
powder and lithium batteries--the latter of which, he said, simply
“disintegrated”--do not mix. Instead, the lithium batteries ignited the
cocoa powder in “several flare-ups” throughout the debris field, which
required approximately 1,000 gallons of water to douse, Wesley said. The
Porter Fire Department assisted at the scene with an engine.
At mid-morning all
eastbound traffic was still being diverted off I-94 at the Burns
Harbor/Porter exits, leaving U.S. Highway 20 something of a “disaster,”
Wesley noted, with “U.S. 20 backed up from Ind. 149 all the way to Salt
The ISP was
advising motorists to seek alternate routes--although westbound I-94
remained open--as an “extended cleanup” of the scene was expected.
Neither trucker was
injured in the crash, the ISP added, and there was no hazardous material
involved in the accident.
The BHFD responded
to the crash at 3:42 a.m. and cleared the scene at 6:13 a.m.