Coroner IDs driver killed in wreck involving three 18-wheelers

DIAMONDHEAD -- One man is dead after a Monday evening wreck involving three 18-wheelers shut down all three eastbound lanes of Interstate 10 near the Diamondhead exit.

Hancock County sheriff's Chief Deputy Don Bass said the driver who died was trapped inside one of the trucks as it caught on fire.

County Coroner Jim Faulk identified the driver as Lewis Peak, 44, of Valdosta, Georgia.

Mississippi Highway Patrol spokesman Benjamin Seibert said a preliminary investigation revealed two of the trucks were rear-ended in a domino effect about 4:38 p.m. The lanes finally were cleared of damaged vehicles and debris about 6:30 a.m. Tuesday.

The first truck, driven by Peak, hit a Volvo semi driven by Razmik Khachikyan, 59, of Panorama City, Calif., who was uninjured.

Those two semis became entangled and were engulfed in flames.

Khachikyan's truck rear-ended a freightliner tanker driven by Roger Eppler, 65, of Jasper, Texas, who was transported to Garden Park Hospital with moderate injuries.

The tanker was carrying a highly corrosive chemical, a Class 8 hazardous material. None of the chemical leaked out of the truck, and a New Orleans company was called to remove it from the truck.

Details of how the accident occurred are still being sorted out.

"A lot of confusion out here," Bass said about 5:30 p.m.. "There's every jurisdiction here from Harrison County, Hancock County and Diamondhead and numerous rescue and fire engines."

Traffic was being diverted onto Exit 13, north on Mississippi 603 into Kiln, and east onto Kiln-Delisle Road, which leads back south to the DeLisle Exit 20.

By press time at 8:30 p.m. the lanes were still closed and officials were trying to extract the body from the first truck.

An accident reconstructionist also was called to the scene, and the wreck remains under investigation.

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