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Sunday
Jan292012

Update: At Least 10 Dead in Crashes on I-75 in Florida

Comstock/Thinkstock(GAINESVILLE, Fla.) -- A series of deadly crashes on a Florida highway overnight Saturday killed at least 10 people, and officials say the death toll may rise.

Florida Highway Patrol Lieutenant Patrick Riordan says heavy smoke from a nearby marsh fire hampered visibility on Interstate 75 in Gainesville and led to the pileups in the early morning hours Sunday.

“That smoke combined with some fog that moved into the area and kind of settled into this area of this interstate and made visibility an issue,” Riordan said. “It definitely had an effect in a very bad way.”

Both I-75 and U.S. 441 had been closed before the crashes because of limited visibility. The highways were later reopened because conditions had improved, according to Riordan.

Crashes because of the smoke also were reported on U.S. 441, according to The Gainsville Sun.

Riordan said the crash site was a devastating scene.

“It’s tragic. It’s not something new to us, but it’s a little unusual to have this many vehicles and this many people killed in one spot,” Riordan said.

Alachua County Sheriff’s Sergeant Todd Kelly said five large commercial vehicles were involved, along with six to eight passenger cars.

“Those crashes resulted in at least nine fatalities. Those numbers are expected to possibly rise depending on how things unfold,” Kelly said.

“Very sad. I mean it’s just a devastating day up there to see the loss of life and just a mangled mess, lots of debris on the roadway, lots of vehicles on the roadway, it was a very, very dangerous scene up there last night with zero visibility,” Kelly said.

The crashes left only the burned shells of vehicles, sprawled out for more than half a mile.

“The smell, the sight, those sort of things, you just can’t shake those images out of your head, what those people went through, during the moments, probably just sheer terror up there for a while,” he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio