A fiery collision between two tractor-trailers about 5:25 a.m. Saturday on southbound Interstate 81 at mile marker 16 in Hamblen County caused a massive traffic jam on the busy highway.
Both drivers suffered injuries. Traffic was shut down until Saturday afternoon. Drivers were diverted from southbound I-81 until the wreck scene could be cleared.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol continues an investigation. A THP preliminary crash report said that a 2016 Freightliner driven by 59-year-old Joseph Hopper, of Little Rock, Arkansas, struck the rear of a car carrier attached to a 2011 Freightliner driven by 47-year-old Vano Galakhvaridze, of Brooklyn, New York.
The truck driven by Hopper and the car carrier attached to the truck driven by Galakhvaridze “both caught fire and were destroyed,” the THP report said.
Hopper was airlifted to Johnson City Medical Center. Galakhvaridze was taken by ambulance to Morristown-Hamblen Healthcare System hospital.
The Mosheim Volunteer Fire Department assisted Hamblen County first responders and the THP at the crash scene.
Mosheim fire Chief Harold Williamson said in a Facebook post Saturday morning the interstate “is completely shut down and will be for a few more hours.”
It was “a bad two-semi crash,” Williamson wrote.
Traffic was diverted off southbound I-81 around the area of the crash, including onto the Fish Hatchery Road exit in Greene County.
Southbound I-81 was reopened about 3 p.m. Saturday.