Florida Highway Pileup
January 30, 2012 by staff
Florida Highway Pileup, A long line of cars and trucks collided one after another early yesterday on a dark highway so shrouded in haze and smoke that drivers were instantly unable to see the road. At least 10 people were killed.
When rescuers first arrived, they could only listen for screams and moans because the poor visibility made it difficult to find victims in wreckage that was strewn for nearly a mile, police said.
Authorities were still trying to determine what caused the pileup south of Gainesville on Interstate 75, which had been closed for a time because of the mixture of fog and heavy smoke from a brush fire that may have been intentionally set. At least five cars and six tractor-trailers were involved; some burst into flame.
Steven R. Camps of Gainesville said he and some friends were driving home several hours before dawn when they were drawn into the pileup.
“You could hear cars hitting each other. People were crying. People were screaming. It was crazy,’’ he said. “If I could give you an idea of what it looked like, I would say it looked like the end of world.’’
Photographs of the scene taken hours later revealed twisted, burned-out vehicles scattered across the pavement, smoke still rising from the wreckage.
Cars appeared to have smashed into the big rigs and, in one case, a motor home. Some cars were crushed beneath the heavier trucks.
One tractor-trailer was burned down to its frame, which charred books and magazines in its cargo area. And the tires of every vehicle had burned away, leaving only steel belts.
Before Camps hit the fog bank, a friend who was driving ahead of him in a separate vehicle called to warn of the road conditions. The friend said he had just seen an accident and warned Camps to be careful as he approached the Paynes Prairie area just south of Gainesville.
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