Strong winds force 2 semi-trucks to crash, roll over on Interstate 75

Herald staff reporters

An accident involving two semi trucks on Interstate 75 at 2:13 p.m. Wednesday appears to have been weather-related, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

The incident occurred on I-75 northbound near mile marker 225, according to a release.

A 911 caller reported two semi-trucks had crashed and rolled over on I-75 northbound at mile marker 225 in Ellenton, according to Manatee County Public Safety.

“At approximately 2:18 (p.m.), we had two semi-tractor trailers traveling northbound on I-75, occupying the center lane,” said FHP trooper Kenneth R. Watson from the scene. “Just as they had exited coming over the overpass, the bridge, they experienced high winds. Unfortunately, these winds actually lifted these 18-wheelers off of the roadway, one of them going into the ditch on its right side, the other one flipping over, staying within the roadway.”

Based on witness statements, driver statements and evidence on scene, Watson said it appears there was either a small tornado extremely high winds at the time of the crash.

Though the investigation continues, Watson said it does not appear as though the two trucks made contact.

No injuries were reported in the accident.

Manatee EMS and the North River Fire District were also on scene. According to North River Fire District Battalion Chief J.D. Hadlock, the two male truck drivers were single occupants of their respective vehicles and both declined medical attention.

One of the semi-trucks, a white Peterbilt, lay on its right side along two lanes of I-75. Inside the cab was a Florida state map and a plastic food container. The driver declined to comment other than to say: “It was a freaky ride, for sure.”

The other driver, whose International truck lay in a ditch, had one comment.

“It was the wind,” he said in Spanish to a reporter on scene — his eyes squinting toward vehicles passing by slowly.

He and the other driver stood by the road, recounting to troopers what led up to the accident.

“Unfortunately, this time of year in Florid,a we have these storms that pop up literally out of nowhere — very heavy and very violent,” Watson said when asked if such accidents are common. “So yes, this is not only probable but, in this case, looks like it’s possible.”

According to Bay News 9 meteorologist Brian McClure, there was no tornado.

“There was definitely a thunderstorm at that time, so it definitely would have been high winds coming out under the storm,” he told a Herald reporter Wednesday evening. “It passed the interstate and was pretty much done with at about 2:20 p.m.”

The two blocked right northbound lanes reopened at 4:46 p.m., according to FHP.

Amaris Castillo: 941-745-7051, @AmarisCastillo

Jessica De Leon: 941-745-7049, @JDeLeon1012