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Two dead after fiery crash involving 2 semi-trucks; I-43 reopens near Belgium

The road was closed for around 7 hours Thursday going into Friday
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Posted at 7:19 PM, Sep 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-09 18:29:20-04

BELGIUM, Wis. — Two people are dead after a fiery crash between two semi-trucks, which shut down I-43 in both directions near Belgium in Ozaukee County on Thursday. Lanes finally reopened early Friday morning.

According to the Ozaukee County Sheriff's Office, deputies responded south of Sandy Beach Road around 6:30 p.m. for a crash. Officials say a northbound semi left the road, entered the southbound lane and struck another semi.

Both semi-truck drivers died from their injuries at the scene.

The sheriff's office says a northbound tractor trailer driven by Milton Christensen, 50 of Suring, left the roadway, traveled through the interstate median, entered the southbound lanes of I43 and struck a southbound tractor trailer driven by Richard Wysocki, 69 of Wausaukee.

WATCH:

Video by Hanna Schwarz

Both drivers died at the scene of the crash.

"It makes your heart sink. You hope for the best and fear the worst. In this case, it was the worst. It's a relatively dangerous job," said Andrew Forster, who saw the scene and has been driving a truck for 25 years.

Heather Hernandez is a cashier at the BP gas station just off the exit to the highway. She said a lot of rerouted drivers came through the store due to the crash, including some who witnessed it firsthand.

"A young father came in with his little girl and he had come upon the scene right after it had happened," said Hernandez. "He pulled over to see if he could try to help any of the drivers that were in there but he said when he approached the cab he could tell that it was already engulfed in flames and then the tires started exploding."

WATCH: The crash resulted in a fire, creating a large amount of smoke.

Fiery 2 semi crash shuts down I-43 near Belgium

(Video courtesy: Haven Minick)

No details have been released yet on the two drivers who died in the crash.

WATCH: Several emergency crews are on the scene of a fiery crash involving two semi-trucks.

Ozaukee County: Fiery 2 semi crash shuts down I-43

(Video courtesy: Beth Valerius)

Officials say I-43 between Port Washington exit 100 and Belgium exit 107 in both directions will remain closed until further notice. Drivers are urged to find an alternate route.

More than a dozen police and fire departments responded. Most of the fire response was made up of volunteers.

"It’s a very tragic situation. We’re an all-volunteer department. All of our members are at their home, or with their families, doing something, and they drop everything to come out and help someone in need," said Pat Wester, first assistant chief of the Belgium Fire Department.

Wester said in 32 years, it's one of the worst vehicle fires he's ever fought. And safety was first in mind, he said, considering all of the diesel fuel that was burning.
This is a developing story and will be updated.

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