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Truck driver charged over spilled gravel that caused crashes on Selmon Expressway ramp

TAMPA — The Florida Highway Patrol has tracked down and charged a semitrailer driver who troopers say dropped a load of gravel on the Lee Roy Selmon Crosstown Expressway ramp, causing three crashes and serious injuries to one driver.

Troopers say Simon Saez, 37, of Kissimmee was driving a Kenworth semitrailer on the eastbound ramp to Interstate 4 about 9:20 a.m. on Nov. 29 when 18,000 pounds of gravel spilled from his trailer. Moments later, drivers in a Buick sedan and Pontiac coupe lost control in the gravel and slammed into a barrier wall.

The driver of the Pontiac, 24-year-old William Swartz of Tampa, got out and was surveying the damage when a Toyota sedan crashed into the barrier wall and then into Swartz and his car. The impact threw Swartz over the barrier wall and he fell more than 30 feet to the ground below. He was taken to Tampa General Hospital with serious injuries.

Neither of the other drivers was injured.

Troopers used commercial vehicle records to track down Saez, a driver for Selyan Transport in Kissimmee, and learned he'd just left the Port of Tampa with the gravel load when the spill happened. He was charged with leaving the scene of a crash and driving with an unsecured load resulting in serious injury.