NEW YORK — An auto wreck on the Brooklyn Bridge killed one person Wednesday and sparked a fire that engulfed three vehicles and cut off a key New York City artery at the start of the morning commuting rush on one of the busiest travel days of the year.
The fiery 7 a.m. crash on the Brooklyn-bound side of the bridge sent a column of black smoke rising above the landmark span. Motorists blocked by the wreck got out their cars to watch a swarm of firefighters work to extinguish the blaze.
Police identified the victim who died as Kristopher Hambas, 32, of Scarsdale, New York. Six people were injured, including two who were hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries. The others refused medical attention.
The entire bridge was closed to traffic for about an hour. Major traffic tie-ups continued to spill onto surrounding roads as it was reopened, beginning with the Manhattan-bound lanes.
Photographs posted by bystanders on social media showed the charred hulks of three vehicles and a fourth a few strides away with body damage.
The chain reaction pile-up began when a Ford pickup traveling on the Brooklyn-bound side rear-ended a Nissan, which caused the Nissan to strike the center median, police said. The pickup then rear-ended Hambas' Volkswagen, causing it to strike a cement barrier and catch fire. The Volkswagen also rear-ended an SUV, causing it to rear-end another SUV, which then struck the rear of a Jeep Liberty, police said.
The wreck happened on a portion of the bridge over land on the Brooklyn side of the East River, near where drivers turn on to exit ramps and surface roads. The fire was a few feet from a spot where throngs of tourists enter the bridge's pedestrian and cycling path.