Fog combined with heavy smoke from a brush fire created conditions of extremely low visibility on I-75 South in Gainesville, Florida late on Saturday night. A semi truck then struck a Toyota at 11:55 pm, and a Lexus later hit the back of the truck. The passenger of the Lexus was taken to hospital for serious injuries. The Highway patrol closed the section of I-75 and U.S. 441, but then re-opened the road early Sunday morning which is when the fatal crashes began.
According to Lt. Patrick Riordan, a Florida Highway Patrol spokesman, the pileup is “probably the worst one I’ve seen in 27 years.” Collisions began at around 3:45 Sunday morning on both sides of the highway in the zero visibility conditions. When first responders and rescuers arrived, they were met with a gruesome scene. Some cars had burst into flames with bodies still in them, and there was so much heat the asphalt had begun to melt. Because the smoke and fog had not lifted when emergency personnel arrived, they had to listen for screams and moans in the fog and darkness.
A total of 12 cars, 6 or 7 semi trucks, and a motor home were involved and wreckage had been strewn for nearly a mile according to police. 18 people have been taken to Shands Hospital at the University of Florida, and 10 lives were lost.