Driver killed by flying truck tire on I-95

SOUTH PHILADELPHIA - August 14, 2008 State police nvestigators want to know, was it a freak accident or equipment that simply was not properly maintained.

The driver of the tractor trailer, 40 year old Willie Benjamin of Washington, D.C., left the state police Belmont barracks Thursday night, saying very little except that he was remorseful about what happened.

62 year old Laura Bertoli of Keansburg, Monmouth County, New Jersey, was slightly injured after the tire struck the silver Honda Odyssey in which she was a passenger.

Her husband, 64 year old Maurizio Bertoli, was not as lucky.

He was struck by the tire and killed.

Investigators say it was about 2pm when the 18 wheel tractor trailer rig, traveling Southbound on I-95 between Broad and the Walt Whitman Bridge, lost two of its rear tires that broke from the axle.

One of those tires struck a northbound car, causing minor damage, then, struck the minivan.

Police say Maurizio Bertoli, the driver of the minivan, didn't stand a chance against the flying projectile that made its way across the expressway like a bomb.

Authorities say the driver has been fully cooperating with the investigation, but they want to know more about the tractor-trailer owned by Ray Joyce of Laurel, Maryland and AM Keefe Transport inc. of Broomall, Pennsylvania.

"It will be fully inspected with what's called a Mishap Safety Inspection and a Log Book Inspection, so we get a better understanding of how that wheel assembly and those tires came off," said state police Lieutenant Dave Buckley.

State police say it's too early to tell if any charges will be filed in connection with this case. Meanwhile, a triple A spokeswoman tells us that while its common for pieces of tires coming off tractor-trailer rigs posing hazards for others, they consider an entire tire flying off a rarity.

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