Five children traveling in a van from Louisiana and two male semi-truck drivers have been identified as those who were killed in a fiery crash on Interstate 75 in Alachua County on Thursday afternoon.
The crash, which also involved two other vehicles, is still under investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol. But a preliminary report shows that the incident started when a semi-truck traveling northbound and another vehicle collided and traveled through the center median guardrail and into the southbound lanes near Mile Marker 394.
That semi then collided with a passenger van carrying several children and another southbound tractor-trailer truck. Both of the semis caught fire and the van overturned, ejecting some of the occupants. A southbound pickup that was traveling behind the van and the second semi then drove through the accident scene, a Florida Highway Patrol report states.
Confirmation on the number of injured taken to two area hospitals is still being confirmed. Those victims included both children and adults, the report says.
As of Friday morning, all northbound lanes on the interstate were open. One southbound lane was in use, with the center lane expected to open later in the afternoon. The roadway’s pavement was damaged, so motorists should be prepared for delays and might want to consider alternate routes. Drivers can dial 511 for updates, the FHP report says.
On Thursday shortly after the 3:40 p.m. crash, Alachua County Fire Rescue’s Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) team and the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office’s Air 1 helicopter were called to the scene to help locate possible patients in the wooded area off the interstate. Alachua County firefighters also reported that 50 gallons of diesel fuel spilled during the crash.