Investigators are still looking into what caused a fiery and deadly accident along I-75 just south of Gainesville. Six tractor-trailers and at least a dozen cars were involved in what some called a fiery inferno that claimed the lives of at least ten people. Once the smoke and initial debris was cleared the full magnitude of the accident became clear. Many cars appeared to have crashed into semi-trucks. Similarly, some cars were crushed between other larger eighteen wheeler trucks. One tractor-trailer was burned down to its bare steel frame. At least eighteen people were taken to a local hospital. The initial cause of the accident seems to be a combination of severe smoke from an adjacent brush fire that engulfed this area of I-75.
Ironically, authorities report that a three-vehicle crash occurred just hours before the massive pileup on this same stretch of I-75. In the previous accident, a tractor-trailer crashed into another vehicle leaving the driver of the other vehicle with serious injuries. This accident, likewise, was also blamed on a nearby fire that dramatically hindered visibility.
Steven Camps, a witness to the accident, stated that following the accident he had to pull his friend from his car, which was trapped between two semi-trucks. According to Camps, he was driving in the northbound lane of I-75 when traffic came to a sudden stop due to what appeared to be a heavy fog. Shortly thereafter Camps states he began to hear the crashes of cars either around or behind him. Camps also states the vehicle right next to him was struck and almost became entrapped underneath a large eighteen wheeler.
While the investigation is still underway, it is currently unclear what party may be liable for this deadly accident. Investigators revealed that shortly before the accident one tractor-trailer may have stopped in the center lane and another eighteen wheeler may have stopped in the outside lane. It is assumed that these tractor-trailers may have stopped in this manner due to the impending heavy smoke that was severely limiting visibility. After stopping, both of these semi-trucks were rear ended by other vehicles. These other vehicles were further rear ended by additional vehicles.
Federal regulations that govern truck drivers and trucking companies mandate that truck drivers use extreme caution in hazardous conditions such as fog or smoke. In such extreme conditions the regulations further provide that the truck driver of the tractor-trailer reduce their speed or stop completely. If stopping cannot be accomplished in a safe manner the regulations generally provide that the truck be driven to the nearest place where the safety of other motorists, and the truck, can be maintained.