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Two drivers hospitalized after semitrailer truck rolls onto car; Interstate 4 reopened

PLANT CITY — A tractor-trailer truck Tuesday toppled over onto a car driven by a woman who fell asleep at the wheel, trapping the drivers in the wreckage and snarling traffic along Interstate 4 for hours.

Both drivers escaped with only minor injuries.

Christine Osterholtz, 59, was driving a 2008 Ford sedan about 8 a.m. in the center lane when she began to doze off, veering her car into the path of Spring Hill truck driver Michael Dacunto, 43, who was in the eastbound right lane, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

Both vehicles swerved off the road and into a concrete barrier wall, the truck toppling onto the car, an FHP report states. The drivers were pinned inside their vehicles until rescuers pulled them out and flew them to Lakeland Regional Medical Center, said FHP Sgt. Larry Kraus.

Osterholtz was charged with failure to drive in a single lane, the report states.

Emergency workers were surprised both drivers received only minor injuries. "When you see it, you say, 'Man, there's a good chance somebody's dead,' " said Ray Yeakley of Hillsborough County Fire Rescue. "Mostly they're just shook up, with bumps and bruises."

All but one eastbound lane west of Plant City's Park Road were closed while emergency crews worked the crash. Traffic in both directions was snarled by passing motorists slowing to stare at the wreckage.

Drew Harwell can be reached at dharwell@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3386.

Two drivers hospitalized after semitrailer truck rolls onto car; Interstate 4 reopened 06/02/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 3, 2009 4:18pm]
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