Council Bluffs police have identified the man killed in a semi truck crash on Sunday afternoon. The victim has been identified as 54-year-old Samil Meskic of Jacksonville, FL. He was positively identified by the state medical examiners office as the driver and lone occupant. Meskic died as a result of internal injuries, not fire.
Meskic was killed when the semi went off northbound Interstate 29 in Council Bluffs Sunday afternoon, crashing and bursting into flames on Avenue G below.
Smoke from the burning truck could be seen for miles. Flames shot up 60-70 feet into the air around 3:30 pm. “We saw the truck that was on fire,” said Nathan Hernandez of Council Bluffs. “It was just completely, big black smoke. Got down here, couldn't see nothing. It was just pitch black." Hernandez said firefighters worked fast battling multiple blazes.
“They're walking through fire basically to get to the truck that's on fire," said Acting Council Bluffs Fire Chief Jim Maaske. "They kind of had to put fire out on their way to get to the scene."
A hazmat team was called to clean up 30 gallons of diesel fuel that spilled in the area of 37th Street and Avenue G. “There were firefighters all over, firefighters running down here real quick trying to get control of the fire,” said Hernandez. “I mean it was just unbelievable."
Maaske said firefighters contained the blaze in about 10 minutes, but the fire may have damaged the overpass. I-29 was closed in both directions so Iowa Department of Transportation engineers could check the overpass to make sure it was safe. It has since reopened.
Council Bluffs Police Sgt. Darren Budd believes the driver went off the road, struck the guardrail and became airborne. “I've seen two semis do this exact same thing. Both were northbound. Both did the exact same thing."
Although police don't yet know why the truck left the highway, Sgt. Budd says in one previous instance speeding was to blame.
The driver's name has not been released.