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Breaking News

Three Dead, Many Injured in 19-Car Pileup on Florida's I-10; Spilled Acid Contained, says Capt. Smith

Aired March 8, 2000 - 10:42 a.m. ET

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

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to go back to that breaking news story we told you about just moments ago in Wellborn, Florida. That is northwest of Gainesville, Florida. At least five people have been killed and as many as 20 injured when at 8:00 this morning poor visibility caused by smoke from a wildfire caused 22 vehicles, one of them a truck carrying acid. to pile up on Interstate 10.

Now, a hazardous materials team is on the scene where the accident occurred. Two-hundred drums are being reported, 200 drums of acid were aboard the truck, but the acid still has not been identified. A 17-mile stretch of Interstate 10, from I-75 to U.S. 129 near Lake City, Florida, has been shut down both east and westbound ways, and traffic is being rerouted.

According to Jim Loftus, who's with the Florida Emergency Management Team, he says this is probably going to be attributed to poor visibility caused from the smoke from the wildfire in the area. The injured have been transported to area hospital -- area hospitals, rather, in Columbia Counties and Suwannee Counties. This is definitely being called a major accident, Interstate 10 will be shut down at least until the afternoon.

Once again, Wellborn, Florida, is the scene of the accident. It's just northwest of Gainesville, Florida. At least five people have been killed, and as many as 20 have been injured when poor visibility caused by smoke from a wildfire caused 22 cars to pile up, 22 vehicles, one of them a truck carrying acid.

We are now going to go to the telephone, for we have Captain Leroy Smith. He is with the Florida Highway Patrol. He's the incident commander.

Captain, thanks for being with us. What more can you tell us?

CAPT. LEROY SMITH, FLORIDA HIGHWAY PATROL: Well, right now we have a multiple vehicle crash on Interstate 10, that's in Columbia County, Florida. It's between Interstate 75 and U.S. 129. As of now, we have at least 19 vehicles involved and three confirmed fatalities.

PHILLIPS: OK, so I need to update the information. We were reporting at least five people were killed. You're saying three confirmed. SMITH: As of -- as of now, my sources advise me that we have three confirmed right now.

PHILLIPS: OK, and 19 cars were involved in the pile-up.

SMITH: Yes, ma'am.

PHILLIPS: OK. Are you still finding more injuries? Could there be more deaths possibly?

SMITH: Right now, that is unknown. However, numerous victims were transported to local hospitals.

PHILLIPS: Can you tell us the name of those hospitals in case friends, family members are watching this report and they know they had friends or family going that way?

SMITH: Well, the one hospital, the lead hospital was Shands of Suwannee, and I don't know the names of the other hospitals. One of the hospitals was Shands of Suwannee.

PHILLIPS: OK. Captain, can you tell us, too, what kind of toxic material, what type of acid this was that the truck was carrying?

SMITH: Right now we have not confirmed the type of acid, but there was an acid leak. However, the acid spill has been contained at this time.

PHILLIPS: Any evacuations around the area?

SMITH: Right now no. We just have the Interstate 10 closed and it probably will be closed for the next four to five hours at least.

PHILLIPS: What about that 17-mile stretch of -- from -- or, from I-75 to U.S. 129 near Lake City. Is that the area you're talking about that's closed down on the 10?

SMITH: That's correct. And we're diverted traffic on U.S. 90, and they can -- the travelers can take U.S. 90 east or westbound to get to either 129 or take U.S. 90 over to 75 up to I-10 eastbound if they're going to the Jacksonville area.

PHILLIPS: All right, Captain Leroy Smith of the Florida Highway Patrol, you are the incident commander at the scene. I appreciate you being with us and giving us the update.

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