Heavy smoke and fog blanketed Interstate 75 in north Florida reducing visibility to virtually nothing. Authorities closed a stretch of the highway for more than three hours after a three-vehicle accident that left a passenger seriously injured. Fifteen minutes later a dozen cars, six tractor-trailers and a motor home collided. It was the most deadly chain-reaction auto accident in years leaving ten dead and twenty-one injured. The pileups happened on both sides of the highway. When rescuers first arrived, the smoke and fog were so thick the only way they could locate victims was by following the sound of their screams and moans from the wreckage. Hours later, twisted, burned-out vehicles were scattered across the pavement; tires on every vehicle burned to the steel belts. All lanes in both directions were closed most of the day as investigators surveyed the site and firefighters put out the remaining flames.
A local newspaper has painted a picture over the years with ample evidence that the stretch of I-75 between Ocala and Gainesville is an especially dangerous and accident-prone corridor. Some local residents avoid it completely. In 2007, a similar series of collisions led to the same stretch of I-75 being tagged "a sort of Bermuda Triangle.”
Are steps needed to improve safety on this stretch of I-75? Some believe the state should have made changes years ago including building a truck bypass, but now the land has either been developed or is slated for development. The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) doesn’t believe design or construction flaws are the contributing factors, but rather “flawed” drivers speeding, driving while distracted, veering off payment and then overcorrecting, and falling asleep at the wheel; failure to wear seat belts contributes to more serious or deadly accidents. Now questions not only arise as to how the fire was started and who is responsible, but whether officials made a mistake in reopening the highway too soon, as well as not informing motorists of low visibility in the area.
Devastating accidents like this one result in many victims and leave many unanswered questions. It will likely take months to fully understand how the chain-reaction accidents occurred and why the FHP made the decision to reopen the highway. In the meantime, victims may wish consult with an attorney who can preserve evidence from the scene. If you have been seriously injured or lost a loved one and you have questions about your legal rights, contact an experienced auto accident attorney immediately.
Mark Bello has thirty-five years experience as a trial lawyer and thirteen years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide legal finance cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed by a plaintiff involved in pending, personal injury, litigation. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Business Associate of the Florida, Mississippi, Connecticut, Texas, and Tennessee Associations for Justice, and Consumers Attorneys of California, member of the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series—Mark Bello is also the CEO of Lawsuit Financial and the country’s leading expert in providing non-recourse lawsuit funding to plaintiffs involved in pending litigation. He is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.