HUDSON — Emergency workers spent hours Friday morning cleaning up a chemical spill on State Road 52 after a grinding traffic crash.
The Florida Highway Patrol said 17-year-old Joshua Preuss of Spring Hill was driving east on SR 52 near Hays Road at about 9:30 a.m. He attempted a left turn but cut into the path of a pickup pulling a trailer loaded with pool chemicals, including several 3-gallon vats of chlorine.
Preuss, who was in a 1992 Toyota sedan, suffered serious injuries and was taken to an area hospital, the Highway Patrol said. His car was left in a crumpled heap, the windshield shattered and a portion of the trunk severed. He was charged with violation of the right-of-way.
John M. Pitts, 18, of Tampa, who was driving the pickup, had minor injuries.
Witnesses reported seeing a small cloud float up from the trailer, said Pasco Fire Rescue Chief Torrey Duink. In addition to chlorine, the trailer was carrying muriatic acid and assorted other chemicals — "which is what you don't like," he said. "That's the unknown."
Duink said county firefighters had just changed shifts at 8 a.m., so some people coming off duty on their way home were the first on scene aiding the victims.
Then, hazmat workers in white safety suits stopped the active leaks and set about neutralizing the spilled chemicals.
Westbound traffic was diverted onto Hays Road for several hours.
Molly Moorhead can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6245.