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Central Florida interstate site of ghastly series of crashes

Veteran law enforcement officers said the cluster of motor vehicle crashes on Interstate 75 in north central Florida on Jan. 29 was the worst accident scene they could remember. The situation was extremely disturbing both to victims and rescuers.

The car accidents killed at least 10 people and sent at least 21 more to the hospital.

Before dawn around 4 a.m., travelers on I-75 suddenly found themselves unable to see through quickly advancing thick, black smoke. Traffic slowed to a stop and then vehicles unaware of the situation started slamming at high speed into those that were stranded in the dense smoke.

An eyewitness said it looked like someone was tossing the vehicles around. The same witness said he doubted at the time he would get out of the situation with his life.

Survivors and law enforcement personnel described a highly disturbing scene reminiscent of war with explosions, fires, screams, and incinerated and mangled metal. The smoke made seeing and breathing difficult, yet the outside temperature was only 36. Vehicles burned fiercely, melting the asphalt of the highway.

Rescue workers sent a bus to the scene of the accidents to temporarily shelter those stranded in the elements.

Law enforcement at the scene included county sheriffs and Florida highway patrol officers.

A scene like this can be difficult to comprehend, but families of victims will want answers as to why their loved ones died and others didn't. If it is determined that a driver could have stopped in time and didn't, causing the death of another motorist, there could be grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit.

Source: The Gainesville Sun, "I-75 survivor: 'It looked like the end of the world'," Jackie Alexander, Jan. 29, 2012

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