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Driver of tanker truck badly burned after crash in St. Petersburg (w/video)

A utility truck and a fuel tanker collided early Tuesday near Gandy Boulevard and Fourth Street N, officials say.
A utility truck and a fuel tanker collided early Tuesday near Gandy Boulevard and Fourth Street N, officials say.
Published Jan. 7, 2015

ST. PETERSBURG — A tanker truck that had just loaded up with fuel at the Port of Tampa collided with a utility truck across the bay on Gandy Boulevard early Tuesday, shooting a large fireball into the air and potentially damaging a nearby bridge wall under construction.

The driver of the tanker, Jason Burgos of Spring Hill, suffered life-threatening injuries. He was flown to Tampa General Hospital for treatment of second- and third-degree burns.

His truck was carrying thousands of gallons of fuel overnight when it collided with the work truck shortly after midnight near the junction of Roosevelt Boulevard, Fourth Street N and Gandy Boulevard, according to firefighters.

The fuel spilled and ignited, causing a large blaze that left the exterior of the wall that is under construction charred and sooty.

Jerry N. Freeman, who was driving the work truck from Preferred Materials, suffered minor injuries and was taken to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg, authorities said.

Burgos was westbound on Gandy in the tanker truck and Freeman southbound on Roosevelt Boulevard before they collided, but investigators were still unsure Tuesday afternoon what caused the crash. Witnesses offered conflicting accounts.

Traffic was diverted around the scene for hours, well into Tuesday morning, St. Petersburg police spokesman Mike Puetz said. Investigators looked over the area beside environmental cleanup crews.

Puetz said officials were still determining the effect of the crash on the Gandy construction projects Tuesday. The Florida Department of Transportation said engineers would make an assessment of damage to the bridge wall once debris had been cleared from the area.

Accident investigators ask that witnesses contact St. Petersburg police at (727) 893-7780.

Contact Zachary T. Sampson at zsampson@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8804. Follow @ZackSampson.