Cocoa, lithium batteries ignite after two semi-trucks crash on I-94

PORTER COUNTY, Ind. -- Two semis crashed Tuesday morning on I-94 eastbound in Burns Harbor, spilling cocoa powder and lithium batteries across the highway where they ignited, according to a press release from Indiana State Police.

A preliminary investigation revealed that around 3:43 a.m., a 1999 Freightliner was pulling a box trailer owned by J. Brothers Logistics, Inc. from Burr Ridge, Illinois.

The freightliner was driven by 70-year-old Radmilo Samardzio of Ballwin, Missouri.

Samardzio told officials he was parked in the white striped gore area with his emergency hazards on to grab a bottle of water to drink when he was struck from behind.

Steven S. Dare, 57, of Hudsonville, Michigan was driving eastbound in the right lane on I-94 in a 2016 Freightliner owned by Expedited Freight out of Kenosha, Wisconsin when he reached across the passenger seat to get something. His semi then drifted from the roadway, striking Samardzio’s trailer in the rear, according to the release.

Dare’s semi continued east, crashing into a concrete median barrier wall where both trailers were split open, littering the eastbound lanes with debris.

Samardzio was hauling food products one of which was cocoa powder while Dare was hauling miscellaneous merchandise including around 100 pounds of lithium batteries.

According to ISP, the batteries leaked onto the cocoa powder causing small batches to ignite.

The fire department on scene was able to put out the flames. Authorities add there is no hazardous material.

Both drivers were uninjured and wearing seat belts at the time of the crash.

All traffic eastbound is diverted off the Porter/Burns Harbor exit.

Westbound traffic is flowing.

A lengthy clean-up is anticipated and drivers should expect delays and seek alternative routes.

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