At around 3:40 p.m. on Thursday, January 3rd, a multi-vehicle crash on Gainesville, Florida’s I-75 killed five children and two adults while leaving a fiery explosion in its wake. According to the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), the accident started when a semi-truck heading northbound suddenly veered into an adjacent lane of traffic at around Mile Marker 394.
That semi reportedly collided with a passenger vehicle, which caused both vehicles to crash into and break through the guardrail. As these vehicles entered the oncoming southbound traffic, the semi-truck reportedly crashed into a passenger van and a second semi-truck.
According to the FHP’s preliminary investigation, the passenger van rolled over multiple times, ejecting and killing 5 children between the ages of 9 and 14. The van was reportedly headed for Disney World.
Leaking diesel fuel from both semi-trucks then burst into a huge, fiery explosion. The drivers of both of the big rigs were also killed in this tragic truck wreck.
Investigators believe that, at that point, a fifth vehicle hit and ran over some of the ejected victims and surrounding debris.
At least seven victims of this wreck were left with critical injuries and were transported to nearby hospitals for emergency care.
Following the accident, the area of the crash site on the I-75 remained closed for about 12 hours as the FHP carried out its on-scene investigation and emergency crew worked to clean up the debris. While the site has since been reopened, authorities have warned motorists to be careful passing through it because the fire significantly damaged the roadway.
Fatal Van, Car & Truck Accident Triggers Homicide Investigation
As the investigation continues, the FHP has released few details about their findings regarding the causes of this tragic wreck. What has come to light so far, however, are the following facts:
- A criminal homicide investigation is currently underway – Authorities have not explained why this crash has sparked a homicide investigation. Typically, however, deadly motor vehicle accidents will trigger homicide investigations when there is reason to believe that criminal negligence may have been involved.
- One of the truckers had a history of reckless driving – According to court records, the trucker who first veered into the passenger vehicle on the northbound I-75 had been cited with numerous violations from 2000 to 2014. These violations were for speeding, driving an overweight truck, driving an unsafe truck, and failing to carry proof of insurance.
- Questions about the guardrail have been raised – Namely, there are concerns that the guardrail should have prevented the initial crash from entering oncoming traffic. Given that defective guardrails have been known to intensify wrecks, this aspect of the deadly accident will likely be part of the investigation.
Typically, investigations into complicated crashes like this one take some time. This investigation, however, is expected to take longer, partially due to the fact that the government shutdown has prevented the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) from sending out a team to support and assist in the investigation.
As victims, families, and communities grieve, they also eagerly await answers – and, likely, the opportunity to hold the at-fault party (or parties) accountable for this tragedy.
The Amaro Law Firm Extends the Deepest Condolences to Victims, Families & Communities
Harmed by This Fatal Accident.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any information about this accident – or if you have been harmed in any type of crash and need helpful advice regarding your legal options for justice and recovery.
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