UPDATE: An autopsy Friday morning determined Brian Jacobs died of multiple blunt-force injuries as well as thermal injuries, according to the York County Coroner's Office, which has ruled the death accidental.
It's likely Jacobs died before fire consumed the work truck he was driving, the coroner's office said.
A mattress that fell off the roof of a vehicle on Interstate 83 Thursday afternoon caused a chain-reaction crash and massive blaze that killed a Dillsburg-area man and backed up traffic for miles.
Brian Jacobs, 46, of Wal Mar Drive in Franklin Township, was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash, the York County Coroner's Office said. An autopsy is set
Jacobs was driving a service truck north in the right lane of the highway when a service truck in front of him slowed because a mattress was lying on the road. It happened about 4:30 p.m. just north of the North George Street exit (Exit 22), according to Trooper Rob Hicks, a state police spokesman.
Jacobs slowed, but the tractor-trailer behind him did not. It slammed into the back of his truck and pushed it on top of the first service truck, Hicks said.
The crash caused a massive fireball that engulfed Jacobs' truck.
"It is unknown at this time whether the driver was killed from the impact or the fire," Hicks said.
Both service trucks are owned by S & W Petroleum Services in Dillsburg, Hicks said.
Deputy Fire Chief Joe Madzelan of Alert Fire Co. said one of the trucks was almost like a Met-Ed truck, with a bucket lift. The other was more of a heavy-equipment repair truck, he said.
Hotel affected: Guests at the Comfort Inn in Manchester Township were evacuated from their rooms to the hotel lobby for a brief time after some smoke from the blaze got inside the building, Madzelan said.
"It was just a precaution," he said.
Although the actual hotel was about 100 feet from the fire, heat was impinging on the building.
"It was such an intense fire," Madzelan said. "Plus the wind was blowing in that direction."
Snarled traffic: The crash closed both northbound lanes of I-83, and southbound traffic was restricted to one lane.
I-83 traffic in both directions was backed up for miles, and drivers looking for a way around the crash scene snarled traffic on the Susquehanna Trail and North George Street.
For five hours, Alert Fire Co. fire police helped keep traffic moving on those streets, Madzelan said.
All lanes were reopened to traffic soon after midnight.
The driver of the first service truck, Gordon Myers, 64, of Lewisberry was taken to York Hospital with serious injuries, police said. Tractor-trailer driver Michael Grandmaison, 51, of Maine, suffered minor injures and also was taken to York Hospital, Hicks said.
There were no passengers in any of the three trucks.
The driver of the vehicle that had the mattress fall from its roof stopped and is cooperating with authorities, who continue to investigate, Hicks said.
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