On a January night near Gainesville, several accidents on I-75 killed 11 people and injured 18 others. The interstate was covered in smoke and fog.
The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) reopened the highway about 30 minutes before the crashes began.
Due to fog and smoke from a wildfire in Paynes Prairie State Park, the road had been closed for several hours. But a FHP lieutenant worried that keeping the highway closed would be dangerous.
The lieutenant who ordered the road reopened had no formal training in procedures for opening and reopening roads. His decision was supported by other governmental agencies, including the Florida Forest Service and the state Department of Transportation, according to a Florid Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) report.
Now more than a dozen law lawsuits have been filed against Florida for deaths and injuries from those January crashes, reports the Insurance Journal
Overseeing the highway patrol, the highway safety agency plans to respond today to the FDLE report and release its own investigation into the crash.
The executive director of the agency, Julie Jones, told Gov. Rick Scott and members of the Florida Cabinet that the agency’s report will respond in a “specific and collegial manner” to the problems cited in the FDLE’s report.