In Florida, Rescuers said five people were hurt in a head-on crash of a
tractor-trailer and a Duval County School District vehicle on State Road
9A at St. Johns Bluff Road on Wednesday morning that caused damage to
One victim, 39-year-old Rafaell Harris, a maintenance man for the school
district, was flown to Shands Jacksonville Medical Center with critical
injuries. Three other victims were taken to Shands and one to the emergency
room at Mayo Clinic, all with minor injuries.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, it appears a tire blew on a semi
hauling a trailer full of beer northbound about 8:30 a.m., causing the
driver, 22-year-old Amnon Rattray Jr., to lose control and the big rig
to hit a guardrail, enter the oncoming lane, hit the school truck and
three other vehicles. The big rig then overturned and hit the side of
the overpass, leaving a crack in the barrier wall.
Two cars struck the trailer and a fifth car swerved to avoid the crash
and struck the guardrail. The drivers of those vehicles were 60-year-old
Joann Largen, 27-year-old Christina Smith and 27-year-old Ryan Vanhouten,
all of Jacksonville. Charles Smith, 46, was a passenger in Christina Smith's
car who suffered minor injuries. Vanhouten was not hurt.
Some crash debris landed on the road below.
"He called me around 8:30 this morning and said he'd been in an
accident," said Regina Maaske, whose son was involved in the crash.
Maaske said she raced down to the scene to check on her son, and when she
got there, she saw the chaos.
"He said a truck went over the rail and he had to swerve to hit him,"
Maaske said. "It was coming within like two feet of him. He had to
swerve and ended up hitting the guardrail."