SARASOTA -- All lanes of Interstate 75 were reopened by 7:15 Wednesday evening, after an early morning crash involving a gasoline tanker truck in Sarasota County, according to Florida Highway Patrol.
Two northbound lanes were reopened at 4:40 p.m., according to a dispatcher with FHP.
Officials had earlier said the northbound lanes would be closed until about 8 p.m., but by 4:45 p.m. officials confirmed that two of the three northbound lanes had been reopened.
The crash, which occurred at 5:27 a.m., injured the driver of the tanker and another driver.
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Fire Capt. Jerry Jensen said the tanker was heading south on I-75 near Fruitville Road when for some reason the driver crossed the median into the northbound lanes, where he clipped a Ford F-150 pickup truck before coming to rest on its side in a ditch, Jensen said.
All northbound lanes between Fruitville Road and University Parkway were closed for more than 11 hours during the cleanup.
The 71-year-old driver of the tanker was flown by helicopter to Blake Medical Center in Bradenton, where he was in critical condition. The driver of the F-150 was taken by ambulance to Doctors Hospital in Sarasota.
A responding firefighter was also injured when he sprained an ankle.
Jensen said gasoline leaked into the ditch, but that as of about 9:30 a.m. no leakage was detected. Officials estimated that between 250 and 500 gallons of gasoline remained in the tanker.
Crews covered the spilled gasoline with foam to prevent it from igniting.
Before the highway could be reopened, another tanker was brought in so crews could offload the remaining gasoline from the damaged tanker. Firefighters then used a vacuum to collect the foam, before reopening the lanes of traffic.
Jensen said he did not know why the driver of the tanker crossed the median of the interstate.
Troopers diverted traffic off I-75 at the Bee Ridge Road exit, according to a release.
Northbound traffic on the interstate was at a near standstill for more than three miles into south Sarasota County.