Genesis of I-75 crashes revealed

Jan. 30, 2012 at 5:34 PM

GAINESVILLE, Fla., Jan. 30 (UPI) -- Florida officials said Monday the first in a series of deadly crashes on Interstate 75 near Gainesville began when a semi truck swerved into another vehicle.

The report by the Florida Highway Patrol detailed what authorities believe happened in the first crash involving the first injury, The Gainesville Sun reported. Ultimately, 10 people died and 21 people were injured in crashes that involved seven tractor-trailer rigs and 12 passenger vehicles.

Three vehicles were involved in the initial crash at 11:55 p.m. Saturday -- a 2012 Freightliner semi, as well as a 2000 Toyota sport utility vehicle and a 2002 Lexus SUV, Trooper M.J. Todd wrote in the report.

Todd said all three vehicles were traveling north in the center lane of I-75. The semi tried to avoid the Toyota by veering right, but ultimately hit it. As the two vehicles were coming to a stop, the Lexus hit the back of the semi's trailer, becoming stuck, Todd said.

Willee Moss, 59, a passenger in the Lexus, was the only person injured and was hospitalized in serious condition.

No charges were filed related to that collision.

"There was heavy smoke in the area, causing low visibility," Todd said.

An Accuweather.com meteorologist said the smoke was trapped by a temperature inversion.

"Since the smoke continued all night, it kept getting denser and denser," meteorologist Henry Margusity said. "The cold air settled into the highway. Over time, the smoke just had nowhere to go. The cars were basically driving into a smoke-filled room. You just can't see."

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