Driver charged with improper lane change in I-285 crash, truck fire

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Blaze underneath bridge caused 4 nights of lane closures

After a crash Monday on I-285 West that led to a serious truck fire, hours of traffic delays and four consecutive nights of interstate lane closures, one driver has been charged with making an improper lane change.

Several days of investigation led Dunwoody police to cite a 24-year-old Atlanta man driving a blue Ford Mustang that was involved in the wreck, department spokesman Sgt. Michael Cheek said Friday.

According to a crash report obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, multiple people said the incident began when a silver Mercedes-Benz, which was not involved in the crash, stopped on I-285 West as its driver appeared unable to decide whether to continue on the interstate or take an exit.

The driver of a Toyota RAV4 was forced to stop behind the Mercedes in the far right lane, and the blue Mustang pulled up behind him, the report said. The Mustang attempted to dart around the RAV4, cutting off the tractor-trailer, according to the report. The big rig could not stop in time and rear-ended the Mustang, pushing it into the RAV4 and a Honda Civic.

The truck caught on fire after it came to rest under the Ashford Dunwoody Road bridge, but its driver told police he did not know how the fire started, the report said.

Multiple westbound lanes were closed Thursday evening for the fourth night in a row as Georgia Department of Transportation maintenance crews worked on the bridge. The goal was to reinforce the protective platforms for the bridge utilities, GDOT spokeswoman Natalie Dale said.

All lanes were reopened early Friday morning, ahead of one of the busiest driving days of the year.

Prior to Thursday night’s work, the Ashford Dunwoody Road bridge was considered safe and had been fully reopened to traffic, GDOT said.

ExploreI-285 lanes to close for 3rd night of inspections after crash, truck fire

However, Dale said another project is needed within the next three months to strengthen the impacted steel beams “out of an abundance of caution.”

Three people were taken to the hospital with minor injuries after the crash, which blocked one of the busiest highways in the metro area just before the afternoon rush. Traffic was shut down for hours in both directions after the incident at about 3 p.m.

The driver of the Civic suffered a head injury and was too dazed to speak with officers, according to the crash report. In the Mustang, both the driver and passenger suffered cuts to their hands, the report said.