The Gainesville Pileup—What Went Wrong?March 29, 2012
On January 29, 2012, a massive chain reaction crash on Interstate 75 near Gainesville, FL killed eleven people and at least 18 people were hospitalized. Cars and trucks collided into each other, one after the other, on a highway shrouded in fog and smoke that virtually blinded drivers. The wreckage stretched a mile long.
Smaller cars were crushed under large tractor-trailers, and many burst into flames. Visibility was so poor from a nearby brush fire that rescuers initially on the scene had to work their way toward victims by listening for screams and moans.
Investigation into the cause of the accident is ongoing, but questions remain. Authorities believe the brush fire may have been arson. Others are questioning why the highway was allowed to remain open when visibility was so poor. The highway had been briefly closed earlier because of poor visibility, but had re-opened some time before the first crash occurred, around 3:45am.
In a case like this, it is difficult to determine who is at fault. The National Transportation Safety Board sent its own investigators down to the scene to assess whether it wants to join the investigation.