47 vehicles involved in I-75 crash
Published: Friday, October 5, 2012 at 6:03 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, October 5, 2012 at 9:46 p.m.
SARASOTA - Authorities say dozens of travelers have been injured - but no one killed - in a pileup on Interstate 75 along Florida's Gulf Coast.
The Florida Highway Patrol reported Friday evening that 52 people were transported to area hospitals after at least 12 crashes involving 47 vehicles on southbound Interstate 75.
The collisions occurred Friday afternoon near the border of Sarasota and Manatee counties.
A stretch of southbound I-75 was closed for several hours Friday as the scene was cleared, but the highway patrol reported just after 9 p.m. that the section is now open.
Authorities didn't immediately report the cause of the collisions, although witnesses and drivers said a heavy rainstorm contributed to the crash.
Friday evening, officials had cautioned motorists to avoid the area, where damaged and undamaged cars were sitting in the roadway as a convoy of tow trucks moved them or cleared a path so they could be moved. Transit buses moved some people out of the immediate area.
The northbound lanes were moving, but slowly. Officers diverted traffic to State Road 70.
The crash occurred after 3 p.m.
Julio Olmedo, 57, was driving a white van with two co-workers who were on their way to get their paychecks. "It was confusing, a lot of cars, a lot of rain," he said.
Olmedo said he could hear the accident, in front and behind him. Then he was in it, when his van was rear-ended by a red truck.
"I think I'm going to die," Olmedo said he thought to himself.
Sean McCue was driving home to Sarasota after work about 3:15 p.m. when the chain reaction occurred near the county line.
"All this is people not being able to stop," he said, gesturing behind him to the wreckage on the overpass.
The Sarasota Herald-Tribune contributed to this report.
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