WESLEY CHAPEL — Two separate Pasco County crashes — one a fiery collision that split a car in two, the other an overturned semitrailer — closed both directions of Interstate 75 along the North Suncoast on Friday evening and caused a traffic nightmare for scores of motorists.
Another crash late Friday night — this one a fatality involving a pedestrian — prompted authorities to close all eastbound lanes of Interstate 4 at Hillsborough County Line Road about 10:30 p.m. It was unclear Friday night how long the road would be closed.
On I-75, the first crash occurred about 5:40 p.m. when a 2008 Honda Civic going south on the Interstate lost control and crossed over the median into oncoming traffic, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. That car split in two and caught fire after colliding with two northbound vehicles, a Chevy pickup and a Ford Ranger.
A woman who was driving the Civic suffered a severe head injury and was airlifted to St. Joseph's Hospital, troopers said. Authorities had not released her name or condition late Friday.
The driver of the pickup, Kyle Eugene Mansfield, 25, of Hernando, was taken to Florida Hospital Zephyrhills with serious injuries, troopers said. The driver of the Ranger, Christine Penner, 46, of Largo, was treated at the scene for minor injuries.
As authorities closed the northbound lanes of I-75, debris and emergency vehicles from the first crash caused traffic to back up on the southbound side of the highway. That's when the second crash occurred.
Victor Aviles-Santos, 40, was driving a semitrailer truck south in the inside lane of I-75 near the exit for State Road 52. In heavy traffic from the first crash, a car unexpectedly changed lanes in front of the semi. Aviles-Santos swerved and hit the brakes, but lost control, driving onto the grass shoulder and colliding with a guardrail, troopers said.
The truck jackknifed, tumbling onto its left side before coming to a rest on the median. The driver was unhurt.
The crashes closed the interstate's northbound lanes from State Road 56 to State Road 54 in Pasco County and the southbound lanes from State Road 50 in Hernando County to State Road 56.