Traffic is running again in both the north and southbound lanes on I-75 and U.S. 441 in Alachua County following yesterday’s deadly pileup. As Florida’s 89.1, WUFT-FM’s Marc Whiteman reports, officials from all of North Central Florida have provided assistance.[audio:http://www.wuft.org/media/audio/BoardwalkFireMWwrap.mp3]
In the wake of the most devastating interstate pileup in North Central Florida history, officials are still at work piecing the puzzle together. The multi-vehicle crash, which included more than twenty vehicles, left ten dead and 21 others injured. The accident occured when smoke from a 62 acre fire in Paynes Prarie billowed onto I-75, and Florida Highway Patrol spokesman Pat Riordan says the haze from the fire caused drivers on the road to lose all visibility.
Those injured at the scene were immediately rushed to Shands Hosptial and North Florida Regional Hospital. Shands Chief Medical Officer Timothy Flynn says about 15 to 20 extra doctors and nurses were called in to assist in victim care.
Fire officials are still unsure as to what actually caused the fire, but Riordan says the initial incident involved one of the multiple semi-trucks involved in the accident.
Both I-75 and U.S. 441 were reopened around 11 a.m. this morning. Florida Department of Transportation Spokesperson Gina Busscher says while the roads are currently safe to drive on, they will need some resurfacing moving forward. Busscher adds that figuring out how much funding needs to be alocated for the repairs will take some time.
Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell was at the accident scene, and says all together, roughly 23 cars were involved and immobilized, and carried license plate tags from all over.
Though the immediate damage from the accident is no longer present, dangerous conditions are still possible, and Darnell says the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office will be out in full force along the roadways to prevent further accidents.
Alachua County Fire Rescue Deputy Chief of Operations Bill Northcutt says for emergency responders on the scene, officials are preparing a trauma debriefing.
As the smog clears and the dust settles on one of the most horrific pileups North Central Florida has ever seen, there are still plenty of unanswered questions as to what happened Sunday morning.