TOMS RIVER — A person was killed Thursday morning on the Garden State Parkway in a crash that witnesses say may have been caused by a ladder that fell on the roadway.

Ocean County Sheriff Mike Mastronardy said one of his officers was removing a ladder in the roadway around 8:10 a.m. near Exit 81 on the southbound side.

Five minutes later a call came in for a crash behind the officer's location, according to Mastronardy.

Trooper Charles Marchan, a State Police spokesman, confirmed one fatality in the crash but could not disclose the circumstances of the crash or the identity of the deceased.

Witness Brian Dowd said in a Facebook post that he saw a "horrible accident" on the Parkway when a car drove into the rear of a dump truck that had stopped short. The car was then hit from behind, sandwiching the car and crushing it, according to Dowd.

Cleanup and investigation of a crash on the southbound Garden State Parkway in Toms River (Bud McCormick)

"The second I looked over I saw something I will now never forget which was a person (driver) crushed and looked very bad. At that same time the car engine burst into flames while people from surrounding cars were around the crushed car. Heartbreaking to see this and can only pray for those involved," Dowd wrote.

Lanes were blocked in both directions for several hours, creating multi-mile delays. All lanes were reopened just before noon.

Southbound delay on the Garden State Parkway approaching the northbound crash scene (Bud McCormick)

 

Vin Ebenau contributed to this report

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