UPDATE: Traffic was at a standstill for several hours Wednesday morning while crews cleaned up two separate accidents on I-75.

THP says the first pile-up began just after four a.m.

A three vehicle accident near mile marker 14 caused traffic to slow down. Four were involved -- three people were transported to the hospital.

Sergeant Alan Bailey with the Tennessee Highway Patrol says shortly after another accident happened less than a mile away.

"Due to the traffic back up, at 4:40 two tractor trailers crashed and resulted in a fatality," Sgt. Bailey said.

Investigators on scene say the driver of a semi attempted to slow down but did not have enough time and rear ended another tractor trailer. Sergeant Alan Bailey with THP says the driver survived but passenger identified as 66 year-old James Newman, from Athens, TN died on impact. According to the preliminary report he was wearing seat belt. 

"When people are stopping or not paying attention or distracted for just a second the traffic behind them stops and you get the fatalities or other crashes behind them,” Sgt. Bailey said.

I-75 looked like a parking lot, all northbound lanes shut down. Some drivers forced to re-route off the interstate, others weren't so lucky - some stuck behind the accident with no exit in sight.

THP and first responders spent nearly 5 hours investigating and cleaning up the interstate before it reopened to traffic.

PREVIOUS STORY: Channel 3 has learned that one of the two early-morning crashes north of Ooltewah on Interstate 75 has involved a fatality. The crashes have involved multiple vehicles, including semi trucks.

All northbound lanes have been re-opened to traffic, but drivers should expect delays until the initial congestion eases.

Traffic was re-routed off the interstate onto nearby surface roads earlier.

The use of an alternate route is suggested.

PREVIOUS STORY: Two crashes on Interstate 75 early Wednesday morning created closed lanes of the northbound roadway.

Tennessee Highway Patrol troopers and TDOT workers responded to the crashes near mile marker 14, north of the Ooltewah exit.

There’s currently no word on injuries to those involved.

TDOT expect to have the crash areas clear by 8:00am, but motorists should avoid the area and seek alternate routes.

Channel 3 has a crew at the scene and will update this developing story.