Tragic and Deadly Accidents
By Dan Breitwieser, WCJB TV 20 News.
Separate accidents killed two semi-truck drivers and clogging North Central Florida's main artery all day long causing headaches for drivers. The fatalities were thirteen miles apart, but the first led to the second. Neither truck driver could make it out of their cabs before they were burned alive.
One of the prettiest and coolest mornings in awhile was marred by two tragic accidents. While some drivers were frustrated by the time they had to sit in traffic, troopers say there was little they could do.
It all started about 5 A.M. when a Family Dollar truck hit the median, flipping the cab. Another semi slammed into the 18- wheeler, pushing the two big rigs 200 feet. The second driver didn't make it out alive.
"The cab was crushed and he was trapped inside of the driver's compartment," says Lt. Mike Burroughs with Florida Highway Patrol. "When the fire did erupt with his tractor trailer, he had no way to escape."
Thirteen miles up the road and two hours later, backups forced traffic to get off on U.S. 441 near Alachua. A Frito-Lay tractor trailer ran into another semi, which pushed into a van carrying workers to the VA medical center. Witnesses heard the frito- lay driver scream for help.
"They weren't able to get to him in time because of the intense heat of the flames," says Burroughs.
With the long clean-up time, some drivers were frustrated that troopers did not keep them from getting on the interstate. But Burroughs says they called out everyone they could at the scene.
"It took all our manpower just to do that," says Burroughs. "There's no telling how many of the crashes we prevented by keeping troopers and other personnel to warn people as they approached the scene."
There's been a lot of difficulty with cleaning up all the debris in both accidents. As of early Friday evening, one or two lanes are still shut down at both accident scenes.
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