Early Sunday morning yielded a large line of cars and trucks that collided and left motorists virtually blinded. At least 10 drivers were killed.
When rescuers first arrived, visibility was so poor that they could only use screams and moans to locate victims. At least 18 people were hurt.
Authorities are still trying to determine what caused the pileup south of Gainesville on Interstate 75. The highway had been closed for a period of time due to fog and smoke from a brush fire that may have been intentionally set.
At minimum, five cars and six tractor-trailers were involved in the crash. Some vehicles apparently burst into flame.
Photographs of the scene showed burned-out vehicles dispersed across the pavement and smoke still rising above the remains. Cars appeared to have slammed into the big rigs and, in one case, a motor home. Some cars remained crumpled beneath the heavier trucks.
Reporters who were permitted to view the scene claim they saw one tractor-trailer that was burned down to its skeleton and bodies that could be seen inside a burned-out Grand Prix. All that remained of the tires on every vehicle were steel belts, as the rubber had burned away.
State police estimated that debris was scattered for nearly a mile in both directions.
The fog near the Paynes Prairie area just south of Gainesville was apparently so bad people could not see anything and were pulling off of the road.
At least 18 people were treated at an area hospital.
The chief medical officer for Shands Healthcare at the University of Florida said three of the six patients being treated in the trauma center needed surgery due to serious injuries. Four patients were treated in the hospital’s emergency room, and eight people have been treated and released.
Most people had head and chest injuries or broken bones.
All six lanes of the interstate remained closed Sunday as investigators surveyed the site and firefighters put out any lasting fires.
It was not clear when the highway would reopen because part of the road apparently melted.
A Florida Forest Service spokeswoman claims the fire began Saturday, and investigators are still investigating whether the fire was purposely set or caused by accident.
Four years ago, heavy fog and smoke were blamed for another series of serious crashes that killed four and injured 38 between Orlando and Tampa and involved more than 70 vehicles. One pileup alone consisted of 40 vehicles.
When traffic accidents involve multiple vehicles, the end result can be devastating. Pileups are extremely dangerous and can leave victims with extensive injuries. These types of accidents usually occur on highways with a high speed limit. They are often caused when visibility is poor and drivers are too close to the vehicle in front of them to adjust to an unexpected stop. A chain reaction can be created when motorists begin to brake and skid, which can lead to numerous vehicles being involved.
It can be difficult to establish fault when a pileup has occurred. Generally, an accident investigator employed by local law enforcement will determine what caused the wreck and who the at-fault party is. In some situations, more than one person may be to blame. This can make an accident claim for compensation of damages complex and you may have to deal with multiple insurance companies. If your or a loved one has been injured or killed in a pileup accident, the best thing you can do to smoothly resolve your insurance claim is to contact the Florida Multiple Vehicle Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton.
Unfortunately, multiple vehicle collisions can result in the wrongful death of a loved one. It can be overwhelming to have to deal with insurance companies at this sensitive time and you may fail to collect the full compensation you are entitled to by not recognizing the claims available to you. The Florida Multiple Vehicle Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can work on resolving your claim while you and your family focus on healing. We can assist you by gathering evidence, proving fault, dealing with insurers directly and filing a lawsuit if necessary. Most importantly, we can make sure you receive the full and fair compensation you deserve.
If you or someone you love was injured or killed in a pileup collision anywhere in Florida, contact the Florida Multiple Vehicle Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton online or call our Gainesville office at 352-264-7800 or dial us statewide and toll-free at 1-866-608-5LAW (5529).