Truck Driver Killed After Striking Route 17 Office Building

Witnesses say a tractor trailer veered over several lanes of traffic before careening into a Hasbrouck Heights office building Saturday morning, setting it ablaze.

Last update: 6:03 p.m. Saturday

A truck driver was killed when the tractor trailer he was in crashed into an office complex, burst into flames and ignited the building on Route 17 in Hasbrouck Heights Saturday morning, authorities at the scene said.

 Detective Alan Baker said witnesses reported seeing the tractor trailer veer across two lanes before striking the north side of the building at 500 Route 17 South, near the intersection of Williams Avenue at around 6:45 a.m.

The truck did not strike the building head-on, he said, but wrapped around the columns. The driver was found dead in the cab, authorities said. The charred remains of truck's cab was wedged under the building, in a parking area.

The truck's fuel tank ruptured after impact, sparking the fire and causing heavy damage to the building, Heights Fire Chief Richard Giarrantana said from the scene. There does not appear to be major any structural damage to the office from the third-alarm fire, he said. 

It took firefighters 25 minutes to knock down the blaze, the chief said. Fire crews from towns including Wallington, Lodi and Carlstadt responded to the blaze. The Teaneck Fire Department's Box 54 Unit was also called in.

"It was like an inferno," nearby resident Angela Roache said. "I was in the kitchen and I heard a big blast." 

Roache said the flames were out by the time she walked to the scene.

"The front of the truck was all burnt out," she said. 

The office complex, which houses local offices for the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), was empty when the tractor trailer struck, authorities said. 

"OSHA staff from that office will telework Monday, but in general normal agency operations will not be interrupted," agency spokesman Jesse Lawder said in an e-mail. 

It remains unclear what caused the accident, according to Heights police. Detectives on scene said there did not appear to be any large skid marks to indicate braking.

The truck appeared to be full of office supplies and not hazardous materials, Baker said. Numerous agencies were on scene investigating, including the County Hazmat unit and the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP).

The trailer is owned by Land Air Express of New England, which has an office in Carlstadt. It's unclear what company owns the cab, however, according to police. Representatives for Land Air Express could not immediately be reached for comment.

Sgt. Nicholas Sisto said the driver has been identified and authorities are reaching out to the family for notification prior to publicly releasing the name.

Traffic on Route 17 S had initially been closed but reopened by Saturday afternoon.

Check back for more updates on this breaking news story.

rodney July 29, 2012 at 02:15 PM
sorry to see someone die . most likely fellasleep
Gladys V. July 29, 2012 at 03:03 PM
My heart goes out to his Family! And yup, most likely fell asleep! Thank god no one else was hurt!! Rt. 17 is a busy, busy Route, especiallly during the week!
James Kleimann July 29, 2012 at 04:33 PM
It's not clear at this point in time what caused the driver to veer over several lanes and into the building. Hasbrouck Heights Police are continuing to investigate the accident, while the Bergen County Medical Examiner's Office is determining the cause of death. We'll update as more information comes to light.
Don Gottwerth July 29, 2012 at 05:17 PM
When I worked at a refinery scale house in the 1980s, I had truck drivers bringing in raw materials from Pennsylvania, like 5 in the morning as a veteran shift worker of more than 35 years, I would say to them, do not listen to music of sorts in the truck because steady beats and sissy type singing will rock you to sleep in your seat. Look for talk radio stations, because talk radio gets you thinking, not lulling you to sleep. Believe me I got many thanks from drivers, some of which said I turned the habit around. And I am a classical music buff, but not on the road. Truck and car crashes and operating incidents happen in those critical wee hours on the mornings.
VietNam Vet July 30, 2012 at 06:02 AM
My thoughts and prayers go out to the family because I used to drive the road years ago and close to something like this a few times, thank God I had enough of my facalties there to pull off the road before anything happened.
Ricky July 30, 2012 at 08:03 AM
It points to a medical episode of some kind, heart related or otherwise. Very sad to know someone's life ends in such a tragic way.
Ricky July 30, 2012 at 04:56 PM
For the first time the media mentioned his age at 33, lessens the odds of a medical episode but still possible.
Erik VonKlikenboomin August 01, 2012 at 12:46 AM
I don't live anywhere near NJ, but I have run that stretch of road a few times. Aren't there traffic control devices? Wouldn't that make it hard to fall asleep? Lets try to keep the armchair investigations to a minimum. Family members, I'm sure, are reading it. One of the other sites has some moron commenting that he saw the truck doing 80 to 90mph. All fine and dandy, except that LAXNE equipment is governed at 67mph. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family, a tragic loss of a young man.


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