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Truck hits I-75 overpass, snarling Hernando traffic

The driver of the dump truck, William J. Lindsay of Brooksville, right, and another man survey the damage to the Interstate 75 overpass at State Road 50 on Tuesday afternoon. Lindsay told the Florida Highway Patrol that the trailer inexplicably started to rise as he passed under the bridge. He could face charges.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

The driver of the dump truck, William J. Lindsay of Brooksville, right, and another man survey the damage to the Interstate 75 overpass at State Road 50 on Tuesday afternoon. Lindsay told the Florida Highway Patrol that the trailer inexplicably started to rise as he passed under the bridge. He could face charges.

RIDGE MANOR — A dump truck headed east on State Road 50 plowed into an overpass at Interstate 75 on Tuesday afternoon, knocking down a pair of concrete beams and snarling traffic at the intersection for a couple of hours.

The driver of the truck, William J. Lindsay, 56, of Brooksville, told the Florida Highway Patrol that the bed of the truck inexplicably started to rise as he passed under the bridge about 1:30 p.m.

"The bed just went up for some unknown reason," said Trooper Rick Valdez of the FHP. "According to (Lindsay), the truck is not supposed to do that."

A team of Florida Department of Transportation engineers said their preliminary investigation showed that two horizontal bridge beams will have to be removed and replaced. The DOT had not determined a cost estimate or how long the repairs would take.

The raised bed of the 1991 Mack dump truck collided with the first and second outside concrete beams that support the Interstate 75 overpass, according to an FHP report. The crash left a small pile of concrete rubble in the roadway but no other vehicles were struck during the incident.

Lindsay was not injured in the crash, according to the FHP. He later declined to comment.

Authorities diverted traffic from the southbound lanes of I-75 to Exit 301 and sent motorists around the crash site before re-entering the freeway on another ramp, according to the Sheriff's Office. Eastbound lanes of State Road 50 were redirected into the westbound lanes, turning the highway into a two-lane road just under the overpass.

The DOT said southbound traffic on I-75 will be merged into a single left lane until the overpass is "structurally sound to allow for passing traffic," according to a release from the FHP. Northbound traffic will not be affected.

The eastbound lanes of State Road 50 will remain closed for three or more weeks while repairs are conducted on the overpass, according to the FHP report.

The FHP said charges will be filed against Lindsay or the trucking company, W. Clyde Daniel Construction of Brooksville, pending completion of the investigation and a vehicle inspection.

A message left at the company wasn't immediately returned Tuesday.

Not long after the crash, another accident left a truck flipped along SR 50 just east of the interstate, but the FHP said the two incidents were not related.

The FHP said that Bette Smith, 61, of Brooksville was driving west on SR 50 when she turned left at Windmere Road into the path of an eastbound dump truck hauling a load of trees, wood and branches.

The truck collided with Smith's 2004 Ford pickup truck and spun it off the road, while the truck overturned and spilled its load along the shoulder of the highway. Smith was treated at Oak Hill Hospital for minor injuries, according to the FHP, while the truck's driver, Roy Wayland, 71, of Dade City was not seriously injured.

Smith was charged with making an improper left turn, the FHP report states.

Joel Anderson can be reached at joelanderson@sptimes.com or (352) 754-6120.

Truck hits I-75 overpass, snarling Hernando traffic 12/09/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 9, 2008 8:32pm]
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