According to the Baltimore Sun, the incident seems to have started when a gasoline tanker fell from a bridge on Northbound I-95 around 5:00 am on Saturday, December 17. Witnesses say that the tanker careened down the freeway, hit the jersey barrier, flipped over the edge of the bridge and then plunged to the CSX right of way below where it instantly exploded in a massive fireball. Vehicles then began sliding and crashing into one another as drivers tried to stop and avoid the aftermath.
One witness, Marvellous Amasiatu, recorded the tanker explosion from where he had pulled his car over on the shoulder. He had stopped when he felt it was no longer safe to drive, and called 911 to report the road conditions and the pileup that was happening.
"Cars and trucks were coming in at 50 and 60 miles an hour," he told the Sun. "They were sliding and slamming, and I stayed on the line with 911 and had the video on for about five minutes. I was traumatized. I wish I could have helped. [The driver] could not stop. . . . People could not see what was ahead of them."
Lieutenant Kevin Ayd, a spokesperson for the Maryland Transportation Authority, stated that icy conditions played a role in the tanker accident, and that the tanker set off a chain reaction as drivers lost control and crashed into one another at the scene.
"Drivers are driving up the road, the next thing they see is this, they react," he said.
In all, three people were killed–two in the tanker crash and a third man who fell from an overpass after running from the pileup–and twenty-three were taken to the University of Maryland Medical Center.