Debris, vehicles strewn on I-75, but no one hurt, FHP says
Published: Sunday, September 22, 2013 at 5:45 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, September 22, 2013 at 5:45 p.m.
Despite a multi-vehicle pileup, a diesel leak, nearly a thousand empty honeybee boxes scattered across three southbound lanes of Interstate 75 and a car crushed by a tractor-trailer early Sunday morning, all the drivers involved escaped with no injuries, according to emergency agencies responding to the crash.
Because of the circumstances, no citations were issued, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
The driver of the crushed car, a 2010 Acura, said he didn't know how he got out.
“The car was smoking and smouldering and I was afraid it would catch on fire,” said Edward Farmer of Ocala. But he said he managed to get the door open, and he fled down the slight embankment on the west side of the interstate. He suffered only a scrape on his arm.
Farmer, who said he was returning home from a horse sale in Lexington, Ky., said it was still dark at about 6:30 a.m. when he came around the sweeping curve on the interstate about a half-mile north of the U.S. 27 interchange. He said he saw something on the road and swerved to avoid it but couldn't.
What was in the road was an overturned trailer and a load of empty honeybee boxes being hauled by a 2006 Ford F250 pickup.
“The driver of the pickup lost control of the trailer and it flipped,” said FHP Sgt. Jamie Mulverhill at the scene. The pavement was slightly wet at the time, but Mulverhill said the weather was not a factor.
The driver of the pickup, identified as Michael R. Leach of Jacksonville, declined to comment. “I usually talk to the press, but not this time,” he said. According to the FHP, after the trailer overturned, Leach attempted to warn oncoming drivers about the debris.
After hitting the trailer, Farmer's car was rear-ended by a 1996 Peterbilt tractor-trailer driven by Freddie Melson of London, Ky., according to the FHP.
“Melson advised the investigating trooper he observed headlights from the west side of the roadway. This was the 2006 Ford,” according to the FHP. “The driver realizing there was some type of issue, moved to the center lane, unaware of the 2010 Acura and other debris.”
The front end of the truck ended up on the Acura.
According to Assistant Fire Chief Brian Stoothoff, Ocala firefighters stopped a diesel leak from a 100-gallon saddle tank on the tractor-trailer.
Two other vehicles hit the bee boxes before they were cleared from the three southbound lanes on the interstate, which were closed for about 30 minutes. One lane was opened at about 7:30 a.m., but early morning southbound traffic was backed up for nearly two miles for much of the morning; the scene and roadway was cleared by 11:30 a.m.
Rick Allen can be reached at email@example.com or 867-4154
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