Man charged in I-285/Ga. 400 crash involving tractor-trailer, tanker

Turns out, it wasn’t the fault of either driver when two trucks plunged from I-285 to Ga. 400, causing a crash that stopped traffic at the busy interchange for five hours, police said Thursday.

Instead, it was the driver of a 2014 Kia Sorento who allegedly sparked the wreck when he left his lane, driving into the path of a tractor-trailer, according to Sandy Springs police. Howard Silverstein, 64, was charged with failure to maintain lane in the Friday crash.

“The roads were wet,” Silverstein told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I bumped into the wheel of the Publix truck. Then the world seemed to come to an end.”

In reality, no one was injured. But Silverstein’s mistake set off a crash that blocked the interchange for hours.

“Silverstein entered into the path and lane on 285 eastbound already occupied by the Publix tractor-trailer,” Sandy Springs police said in an emailed statement. “The right front tire of the Kia Sorento struck the left front tire and rim of the tractor-trailer causing the Kia’s tire to go flat.”

The tractor-trailer then veered to the right and hit the fuel tanker, police said. The impact sent both trucks over the concrete barrier and onto I-285, and the chain-reaction crash was captured on video released Thursday.

The tractor-trailer, driven by Leroy Edwards of Lawrenceville, landed upside down on Ga. 400, striking a 2004 Honda Civic, according to police. The fuel tanker, driven by Michael Andre Bowden of Lithonia, slid down a grass embankment, coming to a rest against a guard rail.

Somehow, no one was seriously injured in the crash. And despite the potential for a fuel spill, it was wreckage and debris, including items being hauled in the tractor-trailer, that brought traffic in the area to a standstill for hours during the cleanup and investigation.

Just before rush hours, lanes were re-opened in the area as the wreckage was pushed out of the way. By then, some drivers had been sitting for hours and tempers flared. This wasn’t an average traffic jam, even by metro Atlanta standards.

Later Friday, the tractor-trailer was removed from the area. And the next day, the tanker truck was pulled from the area.

Silverstein, 64, of Duluth was cited and released at the scene. He is scheduled for court at 10 a.m. on Nov. 23.

— Staff writer Craig Schneider contributed to this article.