Photo courtesy of John Lyda
UPDATE, 9:17 a.m.: Police report all lanes of I-459 are cleared and reopened.
A fatal accident has shut down I-459 this morning. Police estimate the earliest the interstate will reopen is 9 a.m.
The accident occurred Wednesday around 12:53 a.m. on I-459 northbound near U.S. 31.
An 18-wheeler was traveling northbound when it struck a car traveling in the wrong direction. The car was possibly a Kia SUV, according to police. The SUV driver was thrown from the vehicle and pronounced dead on the scene. Police believe he was the only passenger in the SUV.
The 18-wheeler burst into flames following the accident, but the driver was able to escape before the cab of the truck caught fire. He was the only occupant.
The driver was taken to UAB Medical West in Hoover for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.
Both vehicles were completely destroyed by fire, and all lanes of I-459 — northbound and southbound — were shut down. Two lanes of I-459 south opened later in the morning.
At this time, all traffic on I-459 north is being forced to exit at AL 150.
Police report the 18-wheeler was not carrying any hazardous materials, but diesel fuel was spilled onto all lanes of traffic when the fuel tank ruptured.
The victim’s identity will be released after he is positively identified and his family has been notified.