Cement truck driver dies in Ellenton accident

ELLENTON -- The driver of a Cemex cement truck died today when his vehicle crashed on U.S. 301 North just east of Interstate Highway 75, the Florida Highway Patrol reports.

The accident was reported at 9:16 a.m. The driver, Jerry Wayne Hart, 52, of Sarasota was entrapped, and his body was pulled out of the wreckage at just before 11 a.m.

"There was too much weight, and the truck was too heavily damaged," said FHP Sgt. William Pasco, explaining why it took about two hours to remove the man's body.

Pasco said the truck was heading east on U.S. 301, approaching a traffic signal, when Hartr swerved to avoid hitting a truck that was stopped for a red light. The cement truck hit a concrete pole and turned over on its side.

After the accident, firefighters sprayed the truck with foam retardant. Several fire trucks, the Florida Highway Patrol and a Bradenton heavy rescue truck responded to the scene.

"All I wanted to do was to help the poor man. It was impossible," said eyewitness Lizet Snyder.

Snyder and Linda Cortez were en route to a friend's house for a prayer session when they saw the cement truck flip.

"We were going there to talk about life, but instead we had death staring us in the face," Cortez said.

Several saddened co-workers of the Cemex driver had gathered at the crash site.

The accident slowed traffic through the area, since the truck also took out a control box for the signals. FHP said Manatee County officials were planning to call a private contractor to install a temporary box.