One person is dead following an accident Thursday afternoon involving a tractor-trailer and two vehicles on the Thruway in Cheektowaga, authorities said.
The accident occurred just after 3 p.m. on the westbound lanes of the Thruway between the Kensington Expressway and Cleveland Drive exit, tying up traffic on the Thruway for miles in both directions during the height of the afternoon rush hour and slowing it well into the evening.
The tractor-trailer apparently jumped the concrete Jersey barriers separating the eastbound and westbound lanes, blocking lanes on both sections of the Thruway.
The names of those involved in the crash have not been released.
By shortly after 8 p.m., the center lane was open in both directions but the left lanes in both directions remained closed. Motorists were advised to seek alternate routes.
While the accident was being investigated, the westbound Thruway on-ramp from Cleveland Drive was reportedly closed, blocked by a snow barrier arm and a State Police car.
A state trooper arrived on the scene just after the crash, inspected one of the vehicles and rushed back to his patrol car. Police did not release any information about injuries suffered by other victims.
Firefighters from Cleveland Hill and U-Crest fire companies, Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority transit police and a Rural/Metro Medical Services ambulance also were at the scene.
Rush-hour traffic was backed up for miles in each direction, even onto the Niagara Thruway and Youngmann and Kensington expressways. Traffic also reportedly was slow on roads in Cheektowaga, Williamsville and Clarence.
The accident remains under investigation, State Police said.
Further complicating the afternoon commute was a minor accident on the eastbound Thruway near the Williamsville exit, State Police said. No one was injured in that accident.