Dangling semi back on solid ground at Interstate 95 and Congress Avenue in Boca Raton

Driver said he thought he was on the expressway
Posted at 6:12 AM, Aug 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-04 23:08:57-04

A tractor-trailer was left in a precarious position after a crash on Interstate 95 southbound at Congress Avenue Thursday morning in Boca Raton.

The wreck, reported at 4:17 a.m., closed the exit and entrance ramps both north and south while crews worked to move the semi.

The Florida Highway Patrol said no one was hurt in the crash, but the truck's fuel tanks leaked diesel fuel onto the road. The Department of Environmental Protection responded to the scene to ensure all the fuel was cleaned up.

The driver, William Brake, said he thought he was entering an express lane instead of the off-ramp and was traveling about 65 mph at the time of the wreck.

"I was on expressway and thought that this was part of the expressway.  (It) was a surprise. I am not the only 18-wheeler that had this problem at this time of night. You're cruising and then you get to this point and you say, 'What's going on?' and it's too late," said Brake.

FHP said troopers are still investigating the crash, but said they will most likely write Brake a ticket.

The semi was hauling cabinets from Georgia to Fort Lauderdale before the crash.

Boca Raton Fire-Rescue Services said Tri-Rail service was suspended for about 90 minutes as crews worked to get Brake out of the truck which was dangling over the tracks.

"They came real fast because I was trying to find my phones somewhere, in the mess," Brake said describing the inside of his cabin.

Amazingly, the truck didn't fall. Brake got back on solid ground just before 6 a.m. But towing crews didn't remove the semi and trailer until closer to noon.

Brake said he was preparing for the worst and tried putting a mattress between him and the windshield, in case his cab tumbled the 40 feet to the ground below.

For the first tow truck to arrive on scene, it was an all too familiar sight.

"Oh wow. Just another one," Darren Wells said when he first saw the truck. "We've had several accidents here, we've had cars over the embankment before, trucks that hit the wall."

Contractors with FDOT installed a guardrail over the damaged part of the concrete wall Brake crashed into. A spokesman said crews will repair the wall with a permanent fix Sunday or Monday.

Brake walked away with barely a scratch, relieved and very thankful for  all the people who got his feet on solid ground safely.

"Y'all got a great first responders. Treat your first responders, your police department, with respect," he said.