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Florida Overnight Wrecks 9 Dead

January 29, 2012 by staff 

Florida Overnight Wrecks 9 Dead, Hazy fog and heavy smoke from a brush fire clouded a north Florida interstate overnight, leaving drivers blinded and causing wrecks that killed at least nine people, authorities said Sunday.

Photographs taken Sunday morning showed the burned-out shells of at least two vehicles and a tractor-trailer, with gray smoke still rising above the asphalt on an otherwise desolate Interstate 75.

Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Patrick Riordan said the pileups happened around 3:45 a.m. on both sides of I-75 south of Gainesville. All lanes of the interstate remained closed as investigators began trying to figure out exactly what caused the wrecks.

Riordan said several people were injured and taken to Gainesville hospitals. Their conditions were unclear.

At least 18 people hurt in the wreck were being treated at Shands at the University of Florida, said hospital spokeswoman Allison Wilson.

Donna Henry told The Gainesville Sun that she was driving south on the interstate at 3:45 a.m. when she encountered the smoke.

“We just hit it, and you couldn’t see anything,” said Henry, who was driving with friends back home to Palm Bay. She said her car struck a guardrail and ended up sideways in the outside lane. She pulled off the highway and called 911. She told the paper that she could hear the other crashes.

“You heard like 15 times somebody hit, from this side and that, north and south. It was bad.”

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