Crash shuts down I-75, truck driver airlifted to Shands

I-75 truck-Pilot crash
Crews work to free a truck driver Thursday. No one in the Honda Pilot (foreground) was injured in the crash.
Courtesy of ACFR

A blown tire led to a crash that entrapped a truck driver and shut down southbound I-75 traffic for several hours midday Thursday.

According to Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), the incident occurred at 10:50 a.m. near mile marker 390. A tire malfunction caused a Honda Pilot, driven by a 26-year-old Georgia man, to lose control and veer into the path of a tractor trailer.

“The tractor trailer then took evasive action in an attempt to avoid colliding with the SUV,” the FHP report said. “The semi traveled off the roadway onto the right shoulder where it collided with several trees before coming to final rest.”

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The truck driver, a 39-year-old Maryland man, was trapped in the tractor trailer.

A UF Health Shands helicopter awaiting a patient transport.
Courtesy of ACFR A UF Health Shands helicopter awaiting a patient transport.

“When we first got on scene, he was heavily entrapped so that we could hardly see him,” said Kevin Rulapaugh, Alachua County Fire Rescue battalion chief, who said ACFR and Gainesville Fire Rescue combined on an 18-apparatus response to the scene. “They were able to do a tunneling operation, which is where you go through the vehicle to access the patient… It was a very extensive extrication operation.”

Authorities completely shut down southbound I-75 for “a prolonged period” of time to allow a life flight helicopter from UF Health Shands Hospital to land on the interstate.

“Since he was entrapped for such a long time, we did send him to Shands so that he could be evaluated and ensure that there were no hidden injuries,” said Rulapaugh, who estimated the shutdown lasted four to five hours.

The truck driver’s injuries were described as minor, along with two occupants of the Honda Pilot, which overturned and came to rest on its side near the tree line. Both drivers were wearing seatbelts at the time of the accident.

The emergency response included a HAZ-MAT unit due to the truck’s cargo, which was several 330 gallon containers of glycerin.

“After identifying the contents, the main focus of concern was controlling the diesel which spilled from the ruptured fuel tanks,” said ACFR batallion chief Alex Porgesz.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with photos and information from ACFR.

Crews work to free a truck driver who was entrapped for almost two hours on Thursday.
Crews work to free an entrapped truck driver.
Courtesy of ACFR Crews used a tunneling operation to go through the vehicle to access the driver.

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