Smoke, fog contribute to pileup on U.S. 441


Published: Friday, January 31, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 31, 2003 at 12:22 a.m.
Smoke and fog contributed to a six-car pileup on U.S. 441 in Columbia County and prevented emergency officials from finding all the crashed cars for nearly three hours.
Smoke from a controlled burn on Wednesday had become trapped with fog when the crash happened just before 6 a.m., according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
The pileup started when a 2003 Mack tractor-trailer was driving south on U.S. 441 about 20 miles north of Lake City. It traveled into the northbound lanes because of the dense fog, and hit a car traveling north, according to FHP.
Two other vehicles, a 2000 Ford pickup truck and an unidentified vehicle, were stopped between the two crashed vehicles when a 1999 Ford pickup truck hit the 2000 Ford, which then rear-ended an unidentified car, which left the scene.
The 1999 Ford pickup, which was carrying a trailer loaded with mobile home axles, stopped across the southbound lane of U.S. 441.
A 1994 International tractor-trailer then hit the trailer carrying the mobile home axles.
The driver of the 2000 Ford pickup truck, Clarence Jones of Lake City, 62, sustained minor injuries.
But help could not come right away, according to FHP.
"The dense smoke and fog were so thick that responding FHP troopers or Columbia County EMS personnel could not enter the area," the crash report says. "The FHP received cellular phone calls requesting assistance to the injured motorists in this crash but were unable to locate them or attempt to render aid because of the thick smoke and fog."
FHP officials found the first crash at 6:38 a.m., but didn't find all of the crashed cars until 8:45 a.m., according to officials contacted late Thursday night.
The road was opened up at about 11:30 a.m.
FHP is investigating. Kathy Ciotola can be reached at 338-3109 or ciotolk@gvillesun.com.

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