Thursday, December 14, 2017
Public safety

FHP: Weather, driver error to blame in huge pileup on I-75 near Sarasota

SARASOTA — Charges were pending Saturday as officials continued to investigate Friday's massive pileup on Interstate 75, which authorities said involved 47 vehicles in 12 separate car crashes.

Fifty-two people were injured in the collisions, officials said, which began at about 3 p.m. as an afternoon storm slicked the roadway and obscured visibility near the Manatee-Sarasota county line.

Of those injured, 22 were hospitalized, including two who had critical but not life threatening injuries, authorities said. No one was killed.

Nearby Lakewood Ranch Medical Center took in 13 people with broken bones, friction burns from air bags and cuts from broken glass. Most people arrived by ambulance, but some arrived on their own.

The pileup closed the southbound side of I-75 at University Parkway for about six hours.

Some drivers in the collisions were believed to be at fault, said Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Chris Miller. Several were believed to have driven too fast for the conditions, followed other cars too closely, or failed to pay attention to what was in front of them. But charges could take time.

"I would expect to see something next week as they continue to piece all this together and get all the crash investigations done," Miller said.

Though the rain was a contributing factor in the crash, drivers are still responsible for their speed and actions on the road, he said.

"If it is raining and storming, you have to travel at a safe speed, and that may be well below the posted speed limit," Miller said. "The second thing is that people have to, whether it's raining, whether it's fog, whether it's completely dry out there, leave more distance between themselves and the people in front of them. People typically follow too close."

Potential charges in the crashes could include careless driving or failure to use due care, Miller said.

Information from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and Bay News 9 was used in this report.

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