Interstate 75 has re-opened in Florida today after a deadly multi-car crash that resulted in several deaths in the sunshine state. While the exact cause of the crash is not yet understood, a foggy day and smoke from a nearby brushfire caused visibility problems for drivers that contributed to the severity of the crash.
Via CBS News:
Drivers were blinded by a combination of fog and smoke caused by a nearby brushfire – and that fire may have been set intentionally. State officials can find no natural cause, no natural explanation like a lightning strike, which could have started the brush fires.
The disaster scene ran for one mile along I-75, littered with the burned-out shells of up to 19 vehicles, including at least seven tractor-trailers. In zero-visibility conditions, a combination of smoke and fog, drivers headed into a deadly multi-car pileup.
The Florida Highway Patrol has released the first crash report relating to the incident. Their report highlights what may have been the precipitating accident, per The Gainsville Sun:
Trooper M.J. Todd wrote in the report that three vehicles were involved in the crash at 11:55 p.m. Saturday: a 2012 Freightliner semi being driven by Myron P. Allen, 59, of Tennessee; a 2000 Toyota SUV being driven by Andrew R. Kusel, 20, of Port St. Lucie; and a 2002 Lexus SUV being driven by Tramel S. Moss, 32, of Gainesville.
Moss had one passenger, Willee Moss, 59, also of Gainesville… Todd said all three vehicles were headed north in the center lane of I-75 when the crash happened near mile marker 380, which is two miles south of the Williston Road exit.
While there was only one minor injury in this initial crash, the poor visibility on the road led to the unusually high rate of fatalities and injuries. One witness, Steven R. Cramps, who was involved in the crash described the incident to The Associated Press:
“You could hear cars hitting each other. People were crying. People were screaming. It was crazy,” Camps, a Gainesville man said. “If I could give you an idea of what it looked like, I would say it looked like the end of the world.”
No charges have yet been filed in relation to the crash, although there have been some indications that a criminal investigation may be opened. There are also suspicions that the brush fire that contributed to conflagration may have been set intentionally.