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CNN Today

22-Car Pileup on Florida's I-10 Leaves Three Dead, Many Injured

Aired March 8, 2000 - 2:01 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Split-second decisions end in disaster on a Florida roadway today. A 22-vehicle pileup on Interstate 10 left at least three people dead and close to two dozen hurt. The road, which cuts across the northern part of the state, is expected to be shut down until later this afternoon.

Reporter Patrick Pegues joins us now from Wellborn, Florida. He's with Central Florida New 13 -- Patrick.

PATRICK PEGUES, CFN REPORTER: Well, Natalie, troopers are now say that as many as 22 cars were involved in this crash. Not all those cars are still here on the scene. Some of them were only damaged moderately, and they have already driven away.

And this all happened just before 8:00, this morning. Troopers believe that the accident started in the westbound lane of traffic, however, amazingly, there are still -- are cars which have also been involved on the eastbound side. Now, as you said, two drivers were killed, one pedestrian was killed. He was actually a motorist who stopped to see if he could help, and he was killed by falling debris.

Now, troopers are investigating whether or not smoke from a nearby brushfire which is burning caused this accident. However, they do say they had a driver -- an officer drive through this area early this morning, just before the accident, to see if it was passable for motorist, and that officer did report back that this area was not smoky or fogged over. But witnesses who were involved in this accident say it was still very hard to see out here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And just as I was coming into the cloudy smoke, it got real, real dark, so I even slowed down more. I was probably doing about 35, 40 and the next thing I know I couldn't see nothing and then, boom, I hit a -- I hit the back end of a semi. And I was real, you know, out of it, and I was trying to get the door open. I pulled the door open and got -- ran around the back of the car, and just -- just as I scooted away from the -- off the road, the semi that was behind my just plowed right into my car.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PEGUES: Now, troopers say that some of that smoke witnesses say they saw in this area may have come from a truck which caught on fire which was involved early on in the crash. And as you said, the troopers believe they will have this stretch of I-10 westbound and eastbound, closed for the next several hours while they get all these cars towed out of here and get their investigation completed.

Another thing which made things a little bit more difficult on top of everything else out here was that one of the vehicles, one of the trucks which was involved in this accident, was carrying acid, which spilled from the truck. However, troopers say all that acid has been cleared up.

That's the latest here from Swannee County, in Florida. Back to you in the studio, Natalie.

ALLEN: All right, Patrick Pegues at the seen of that crash, thank you.

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