Report: Beachline Bridge Tanker Explosion Remains Mysterious

Investigators have found few answers in the case of an explosive traffic accident in January 2011 that obliterated a Beachline overpass and took the lives of both drivers involved. A four-month investigation, in fact, likely led only to more questions about the Merritt Island, Florida, crash.

The accident occurred January 21, 2011, around 3 p.m. when a 19-year-old woman from Merritt Island, Florida, was traveling west on the Beachline. In the 15 minutes prior to the accident, she made three calls on her cell phone—all to the owner of the Ford F-150 that she was driving at the time—though it’s not known what she’d been calling about.

As the woman reached an overpass at North Courtenay Parkway, she lost control of the pickup truck and fishtailed into an emergency lane, where she sideswiped a tanker trunk that contained 8,702 gallons of gasoline. Both the F-150 and the tanker truck overturned and fell off the overpass before exploding. Gasoline continued to burn for an hour, burning the overpass beyond repair.

Both the driver of the F-150 and the 42-year-old tanker driver—a resident of Lauderhill, Florida—died in the crash.

Following the crash, the Florida Department of Transportation awarded Lane Construction $2.2 million to rebuild the overpass.

A 43-page report on the crash has yielded few answers—revealing that blood samples from both drivers did not indicate alcohol or drugs and that though the roadway was wet it was not raining at the time. The report did conclude that the F-150 driver was at fault in the accident, based on witness reports.

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