WESLEY CHAPEL -- All lanes of southbound I-75 are now back open following a fiery crash involving two semis early Thursday morning. The final lane opened up just before midnight.
Officials said the crash damaged the roadway and the road had to be repaved and restriped. Crews had expected to reopen the road entirely by 6 p.m. but officials said they needed more asphalt than anticipated. “When we saw that the traffic was as bad as it was like what should we do. What should we do?" said driver Tina Flores, who was traveling to Ft. Myers. "I texted our friend in Ft. Myers and said we may be there a little later than we thought, but we’ll be there.”
According to reports, a tractor trailer operated by Pat Salmon & Sons of Florida was heading south in the outside lane of I-75 at about 6:30 a.m. when it hit a crash attenuator in the construction zone on the right side.
The collision caused the tractor trailer to partially jack-knife and crash into the center median guardrail, the Florida Highway Patrol said.
A dump truck, owned by R&D Hauling of Land O' Lakes, behind the tractor trailer was unable to stop, and the truck crashed into the rear of the tractor trailer.
Both drivers were able to get out of their vehicles without injury before fire broke out on the tractor trailer, which was carrying mail. They were transported to area hospitals for observation. Mark Alan Berrier, 55, of Macclenny, the driver of the tractor trailer, was transported UCH-Fletcher. Manuel Francisco Rodriguez Rivera, 42, of Land O' Lakes, the driver of the dump truck, was transported to Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel.
The U.S. Postal Service recovered mail carried by the tractor trailer; much of which officials said was either damaged or destroyed. The truck was carrying magazines and third-class mail from Jacksonville to Tampa, according to USPS spokeswoman Debbie Fetterly. Workers are working out the details about how they'll notify customers and deliver the salvaged mail.
Customers will get apologies with their smoky letters, she said. Customers can call 813-354-6265 to find out information about their missing mail.