GAINESVILLE, FL – Ten motorists were killed and 18 injured in a massive pileup involving about 20 vehicles, several being semi trucks, on a section of I-75 in Gainesville, FL early Sunday morning, January 29, 2012.
Gainesville is located in Alachua County, FL in the northern part of the state about 132 miles northeast of Tampa, 114 miles northwest of Orlando and 37 miles northwest of Ocala.
There were actually a series of crashes on I-75 that began around 3:45 a.m. in the morning. A combination of thick fog and smoke contributed to the tragedy. A nearby brush fire in the dark sent clouds of blinding smoke onto the highway which reduced visibility to such an extent that vehicles began crashing into each other.
The crashes occurred in Gainesville, FL on Interstate 75 at mile marker 379 about 30 miles north of Ocala.
About 6 semi trucks and 12 other vehicles were involved in the accidents. Collisions were occurring on both the northbound and southbound lanes of the Interstate in a chain reaction pileup. The collisions triggered an inferno which burned many of the vehicles beyond recognition.
It was reported that the smoke was so thick that emergency crews responding to the incident could not see any of the injured in order to be able to reach them.
The series of accidents began late Saturday night when a tractor trailer ran into the back of a car and then was hit from behind by an SUV. The Interstate was shut down for several hours because of the poor visibility from the smoke in the air.
The Interstate was re-opened around 3:30 a.m. Sunday morning and then another series of crashes happened that were much worse. Officials shut down the Interstate again around 4:00 a.m. Sunday morning and kept it closed this time until later on in the evening. The northbound lanes were opened first, followed by the southbound lanes later on.
Investigators are looking at the idea that the nearby brush fires were caused by arson. Criminal charges are being considered and authorites may press manslaughter charges for the deaths that were caused.
An article at the CNN News website reported on the story:
Late Sunday, the National Weather Service in Jacksonville issued a dense smoke advisory for early Monday morning. Smoke from nearby fires will cut visibility to less than a mile in some places, it said. While the dense smoke advisory expired at 8 a.m. ET, the weather service said later Monday that patchy smoke was possible and warned of reduced visibility.
U.S. 441 lay just to the east of the wrecks, where poor visibility conditions existed as well, due to the smoke and fog. It was also reported that there were crashes there, as well.
Portions of the roadway were melted from the intense heat from the fire from one of the crashes.
Gordon Elias & Seely, LLP recommend that if you know anyone who has been injured or killed as the result of a commercial truck accident involving a semi truck, 18 wheeler, big rig, tractor trailer or bus, tell them to immediately contact a qualified truck accident lawyer for advice. Gordon, Elias & Seely LLP are licensed in Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana and Washington, DC and have informal relationships with other truck accident lawyers. Visit our Gainesville truck accident lawyerpage or call 800.773.6770.