Man dies in fiery Lowndes Co. semi crash
LOWNDES CO., GA (WALB) - Georgia State Patrol has confirmed the identity of the driver killed in Saturday's fiery semi truck crash on I-75 in Lowndes County.
The fatality report from the Valdosta GSP post says 43-year-old Troy Lee Whitt, of Winter Springs, Fla., was killed when the semi truck he was driving struck a bridge support pillar near mile marker 13.
The truck separated into three pieces and caught fire, trapping the driver inside the cab.
Quinn Silvernale, Owner of Valdosta Wake Compound on Old Clyattville Road, saw the whole thing.
"There was a loud explosion. We looked over to the overpass...we saw a huge fireball and a black plume of smoke go straight up in the air," Silvernale said.
"Then, for probably another hour or two, there was black smoke just billowing up," Silvernale continued.
He said he called 911 to report what he was seeing and was going to go to the overpass to try and find out what had happened, but he saw the bridge being blocked off and decided to stay back.
"It looked like they were trying to block off the bridge," Silvernale explained. "So, we kind of decided against going over there in case the bridge was damaged. The way the flames were shooting up, we didn't know how close we would be able to get either and we didn't want to get stuck on the bridge in fire."
The victim, Troy Lee Whitt, reportedly stole the semi from a rest stop in Cordele, but the GSP was not available for comment today to confirm this.
Silvernale said he feels sympathy for the victim, even if the semi was stolen, and he will now be more cautious around semis the next time he's on the highway.
"I feel sympathy for the guy, whether he stole it or not, that's awful," Silvernale remarked. "But, I'll definitely be keeping my eyes on the road when I'm around a semi."
The GSP post in Valdosta is continuing to investigate the crash.
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