Emerald Lynn & Yonas Worku Killed in Fiery Atlanta Crash

Holden Gardner

Emerald Lynn, 31, of Norcross, and Yonas Worku, 44, of Snellville both died in a fiery collision on Interstate 85 in Gwinnett County, Georgia on February 1, 2020.

A Gwinnett County Police Department news release said police responded to reports of the multiple vehicle traffic accident at around 7:50 a.m. on Saturday. Arriving at I-85 northbound near Jimmy Carter Boulevard, officers saw a huge explosion, and flames engulfing a Volkswagen Passat and an tanker truck that had turned on its side. Gwinnett County and Dekalb County fire crews also responded to the scene.

How it happened

The explosion occurred after Emerald Lynn had stopped her silver Passat after being involved in an earlier accident.

Yonas Worku could not stop his Freightliner tanker in time to avoid crashing into the car. The truck was carrying 7,500 gallons of gasoline and 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel. This is what caused the massive explosion when the truck overturned.

Both Lynn and Worku died at the scene as a result of the explosion.

At this time, little is known about the other vehicle or the initial accident that caused Lynn to stop, or why Worku was unable to stop in time.

Explosive freight

The fuel leaking from the tanker caused the fire to spread rapidly. Witnesses reported seeing large flames and thick black smoke rising from the interstate and in the surrounding area. Police officers evacuated drivers from their vehicles by foot as firefighters battled the flames.

The leaking fuel seeped into a nearby storm drain. The fire spread underground and officers diverting traffic in the northbound side could see explosions coming out of manhole covers on the southbound lanes. As a result, they also evacuated businesses along Dawson Boulevard, which runs parallel to I-85.

Interstate 85 is a vital and highly traveled highway that runs through Georgia. Officials closed its northbound lanes for 10 hours, and southbound lanes for about two hours. Then, because the fire damaged five lanes of asphalt, emergency road crews responded to repair and repave that section.

Gwinnett County’s Accident Investigation Unit is investigating the circumstances that caused the accident. 

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