Dense fog and smoke left for a terrifying and tragic scene on I-75 after ten people died as a result to multiple pile ups.
It was a scene out of a Hollywood horror movie: mangled cars, twisted, burned cars, the sounds of screams and moans that seemed so distant and far away. A fog so thick, that police officers only had to listen to shrieks and calls for help to tend to those who needed help.
The mixture of heavy smoke and fog that clouded the area of south of Gainesville on Interstate 75 is said to have come from a brush fire that was intentionally set nearby. As a result of dense smoke, at least a dozen cars and six tractor-trailers were involved in a pileup where 10 people died.
Gainesville resident Steven R. Camps was caught up in the accident where he and some friends were driving home several hours before dawn. Upon entering the scene, he said, “You could hear cars hitting each other. People were crying. People were screaming. It was crazy,” he said. “If I could give you an idea of what it looked like, I would say it looked like the end of the world.”1
Camps told authorities that he was talking to a man in a vehicle next to him about the road conditions when another vehicle struck that man’s car. The man’s vehicle was crushed under a semi-truck that was stopped in front of them. Although Camps' car was hit twice, he and his friend were able to evacuate the vehicle and find safety in the grass on the shoulder of the road.
Camps went on to describe the scene he saw from the safety of the shoulder, “It was happening on both sides of the road, so there was nowhere to go. It blew my mind,” he said, explaining that the scene “looked like someone was picking up cars and throwing them.” 2
Authorities have not released the names of the ten people who died nor the 18 people who were taken to the hospital. As surveyors and investigators canvassed the scene, all six lanes of the interstate were closed most of Sunday afternoon.
“Our standard operating procedure is to get the road open as quickly as possible but let's not forget we have 10 people who are not with us today,” said Lt. Patrick Riordan, a Florida Highway Patrol spokesman. “So we are going to take our time assessing the situation.” It was not clear when the highway would fully reopen because part of the road melted, police said.3
1-4: The Ledger. 1/30/2012. The Ledger Media Group. 2/06/2012. http://www.theledger.com/article/20120129/NEWS/120129265?p=4&tc=pg