The tanker was trying to avoid a Dodge Neon traveling east between Exits 48 and 49 near the Suffolk-Nassau County line around 8 a.m., said Chief Michael Sharkey of the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office. It appeared that the “Neon had car trouble and was slowing down,” Chief Sharkey said. In trying to maneuver out of the way, the tanker driver “lost control of his vehicle, flipped it.”
The driver, Mujahid Shah, 57, of Brooklyn, “never got out of the truck,” Chief Sharkey said. He had picked up 12,000 gallons of fuel in Brooklyn that morning to take to Yaphank, N.Y., and it ignited.
The flames shot high into the air, said Steven Richter, a general manager at Ski Stop on the expressway’s service road near the accident in Plainview, N.Y.
The westbound lanes of the highway did not reopen until about 6 p.m., and the eastbound lanes would remain closed overnight, according to the Department of Transportation.