Smog blamed in four traffic accidents


Published: Saturday, January 22, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 21, 2005 at 11:43 p.m.
A controlled burn at Goethe State Forest in Levy County generated a heavy layer of smog that contributed to four traffic accidents early Friday morning on U.S. 19 and left a Williston man critically injured, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
Walter G. White, 48, was transported to Seven Rivers Hospital in Crystal River, where he was in critical condition, the FHP said.
At 5:50 a.m., White was traveling south on U.S. 19, when his pickup hit a tractor-trailer driven by John J. Santerfeit of Trenton, FHP reported.
Santerfeit, as well as the drivers of other cars in the area, were trying to determine a safe place to stop because of the low visibility when White's vehicle hit the back of the tractor-trailer.
Santerfeit was not injured.
FHP's Lt. Mike Burroughs said the "pea soup" like smog caused three other accidents in a three- to five-mile radius around the area.
FHP set up detours around the smog for about an hour, Burroughs said.
The Division of Forestry burned about 500 acres of woods the day before, according to Dewitt Watson, a forestry supervisor. The purpose of the burn was to improve habitat conditions and guard against the spread of wildfires.
"This is the season to burn. The trees are dormant and you do less damage," Watson said.
During the winter months, fog is more common because heavier cold air traps the warm air, which creates the dense moisture known as fog. The combination of fog and smoke creates smog.
As of Friday evening, Burroughs said the area had only a quarter mile visibility and will be monitoring the area all night long.

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