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 the overpass.
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.”