CRANBURY, N.J. (AP) — The state's transportation commissioner has ordered a review of the New Jersey Turnpike's winter weather operations following a deadly 40-vehicle wreck.
The directive from Jamie Fox was issued Tuesday, a day after the wreck occurred.
Fox, who also serves as chairman of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, said it would be "prudent" to conduct a thorough review of the accident. The review, Fox said, will look at various factors that may have contributed to the crash, including vehicle speed and how the turnpike's winter operations plan was executed.
"This (review) will help reduce the possibility of another such accident in the future," Fox said. "Last night's accident is a sad reminder of the importance we all play in ensuring our roads are safe — whether it is the work our maintenance crews and contractors do or the need for car and truck drivers to exercise caution during inclement weather."
The series of accidents began just before 9:15 p.m. Monday during a mix of rain and snow flurries and below-freezing temperatures in Cranbury, a township about 40 miles southwest of New York City.
In total, there were 21 vehicles involved in multiple accidents on the inner roadway, which is reserved for cars, and 19 vehicles involved in crashes on the outer roadway, which is used by trucks and cars, state police said.
Ice was a factor in the pileups, authorities said.
Two tractor-trailers obstructed the road when they lost control in the truck lanes as they attempted to avoid earlier crashes, triggering a chain-reaction crash involving 13 vehicles in which Daryl Williams, of Bordentown, became trapped in his car and died, state police said.
Dozens of people reported injuries, but none was considered life-threatening, state police said. Roughly 70 people were treated at hospitals, while others declined treatment at the scene.
The southbound car lanes reopened to traffic around 3 a.m. Tuesday, but the truck lanes did not reopen until after 8 a.m.
The accidents remain under investigation, and no summonses have been issued.