Two children were among three people seriously injured Monday evening when a car rear-ended a semitrailer truck stopped at a red light at U.S. 19 and State Road 52.
The accident occurred in the southbound lane of U.S. 19 about 5:15 p.m., slowing scores of people returning home from work for an hour at the intersection.
Authorities and witnesses said a maroon Chevrolet Monte Carlo slammed into the truck and partially wedged under its back end.
All three occupants of the car were taken by helicopter to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg.
"They are all "critical,' " said Cynthia O'Neal, Pasco County Fire Rescue battalion chief.
Names and ages were not released, but the Monte Carlo is registered to a Spring Hill woman. The driver and two children appeared to be wearing seat belts, O'Neal said.
Lori Fratto, 39, of Spring Hill, was stopped a few cars ahead of the truck.
"We were waiting for the light, and all of a sudden, we heard a big bang then saw smoke like you wouldn't believe, like a big smoke bomb," Fratto said.
She said the driver of the truck jumped out and ran to the car, its front end a mangled mess of metal and glass.
A Pillsbury Doughboy doll was perched atop the wreckage, and a child's car seat was turned over in the back.
"I didn't see anything, I just felt it," said the truck driver, Chris Bonney, 24, who works for Rinker Materials in Hudson and was delivering a load of drywall.
The 36,000-pound Peterbilt truck had only minor damage.
"I'm all right," Bonney said. "I just feel bad for the people in that car."