MANATEE -- Following a fatal traffic accident involving three vehicles at 1:41 a.m. Tuesday, the right and center south-bound travel lanes of Interstate 75 in the vicinity of Buckeye Road and Moccasin Wallow Roads in northern Manatee County, were closed for repair until 6:14 p.m., the Florida Highway Patrol reports.
An 18-year-old Seffner woman was driving southbound on I-75 when she dropped her cell phone and reached to pick it up. Her 2002 Ford Expedition entered the inside shoulder. The driver over-corrected and the vehicle overturned several times, coming to rest in the middle southbound lane, the Highway Patrol reported.
She exited the Expedition and attempted to call 911. The driver of a second vehicle, a 2002 Chevy Suburban, could not see the overturned Expedition in the roadway, and plowed into it, leaving two vehicles disabled on the interstate.
The driver of third vehicle, a 2001 truck, saw what he thought was a person waving a flashlight and moved from the right lane into the middle lane. The driver of the third truck then began to see crash debris and tried to brake, but was unable to avoid the crash scene and struck the Suburban.
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The third truck over-turned, blocking the center and outside lanes. Fluids from all three vehicles leaked onto the road, damaging two lanes.
The driver of the suburban, James E. Sims, 66, of Stockbridge, Ga., died in the crash.
The Seffner woman, and the driver of the third vehicle, a Miami resident, were taken to Manatee Memorial Hospital with minor injuries, the Florida Highway Patrol reported.