State Police say Monday's crash on the Thruway in Mendon was caused when a commercial vehicle hauling a construction dumpster suddenly veered across the center median from the eastbound into the westbound lanes and hit a pickup truck head-on.
The two men in the pickup truck were killed. Troopers identified them as 51-year-old Michael Pehrson of Batavia and 25-year-old Christopher Rheinheimer of Darien in Genesee County.
After reconstructing the accident, Troopers say the original collision damaged a guard rail and shoved it into the westbound travel lanes. A tractor-trailer struck it and punctured its fuel tank, triggering the fire seen in photos and videos from the scene. Two vehicles coming up behind the truck then crashed into each other as one of them spun out on debris from the earlier crash.
The driver of the commercial truck who veered off the road and the driver of the car that spun out were both injured and taken to Strong Memorial Hospital. The tractor-trailer driver jumped from the burning truck and was uninjured. The driver of the fifth vehicle also escaped injury.
A sixth car finally ran into debris on the road and was damaged, but nobody was hurt.
Police are still investigating what caused the first truck to go out of control and no charges have been filed so far.