FHP identifies 11th victim in fatal I-75 crash

Crash under multiple investigations

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The Florida Highway Patrol says the body of an eleventh person has been found in a pickup truck days after a deadly pileup on Interstate 75.

FHP says the Alachua County Medical Examiner's Office determined Tuesday that a third victim was inside a Dodge pickup truck that crashed into a tractor trailer as it traveled south early Sunday.

The man's ex-wife, Celeste Knapp, said he was traveling with his daughter and wife to a funeral in Sarasota. She says state troopers came to her door Tuesday night and told her Michael and Lori Hughes, and Sabryna Hughes Gilley were among those killed in a series of fiery crashes.

Florida Highway Patrol spokesman Lt. Pat Riordan said that 27-year-old Christie Diana Nguyen, of Gainesville, was among the 10 deaths from the pileup on Interstate 75. She was a passenger in a car that crashed.

Five members of a Kennesaw, Ga., church that caters to the local Brazilian community also died in the crash, officials said. Church Pastor Jose Carmo Jr. 43; his wife, Adrianna, 39; and their daughter, Leticia, 17, died in the crash.
Another pastor at the church, Bobby Curtis, tells The Atlanta Journal-Constitution  that some church members are worried about immigration issues surrounding a survivor of the crash, 15-year-old Lidiane Carmo, because she's not in the U.S. legally.

The van's driver, Carmo's brother Edson Carmo, 38, and his brother's girlfriend, Roselia DeSilva, 41, also died.

26-year-old Jason Lee Raikes of Richmond, Va. was the seventh fatality and Vontavia Robinson, 22, of Williston, was also killed, according to FHP.

Seven people are still in the hospital as of Tuesday.

Meanwhile, FHP held a press conference Monday to discuss the visibility issue that led to a three-vehicle crash, just hours before a series of pileups killed 10 people on the same stretch of Interstate 75.

FHP said they shut down the road around 12:15 a.m. Sunday after an accident.

According to the report released Monday, heavy smoke and fog resulted in low visibility late Saturday along I-75 south of Gainesville.  About 11:55 p.m. Saturday, a tractor-trailer hit a Toyota in the northbound lanes. A Lexus then hit the back of the truck.

Authorities say a passenger in the Lexus was sent to the hospital in serious condition.

The Highway Patrol closed I-75 and nearby U.S. 441 a short time later, due to worsening road conditions. But the highway was then reopened early Sunday and a series of pileups began around 3:45 a.m., some of them fatal.

FHP said at the conference troopers had monitored the road for about three hours and reopened the road just after 3:30 a.m. Officials said within the 30 minutes before the fatal pileup the visibility changed dramatically and they stand by their decision.

FHP said even if there was dash cam video of the conditions as officers patrolled, it wouldn't be released publicly.

"If the camera had been activated, some of the blue lights there may be photos," Riordan said. "But I will not release something like that."

When asked how many troopers were monitoring the roads, Riordan said they didn't know because there were a lot of different agencies working with FHP, but FHP was nearby when the crash occurred.  FDLE will be looking into where exactly troopers were in that 45-minute window.

According to the FHP report, heavy smoke in the area from a 64 acre brush fire in an adjacent prairie caused the reduced visibility, which in turn caused the crash.

FHP is still working to figure out what happened on the northbound lanes of I-75.

Officials also released the 911 calls on Monday from the fatal crash, where you can hear the callers witness the pileup car by car.

"Here comes another one, he's coming too fast," the caller said.

In the 911 calls, dispatch talked to callers, telling them to stay safe and that help was on the way.

"I'm hearing people crying on the other side that is northbound," the caller said.

You can also hear the caller begging cars to slow down.

"There's a lot of people laying down on the floor," another caller said, crying.

Burt Thomas survived the crash that killed ten people and injured nearly 20. He said the road was clear, but then he suddenly he ran into a thick wall of smoke.

"I rolled my window down and actually starting hearing thuds and crashes and it was so thick couldn't tell you where they were coming from," Thomas said.

 He said he could barely see his hand, but clearly heard screams explosions and loud bangs as car after car piled up and burned.

"It was heart wrenching to see, you know, how quick families could be devastated by something like that."

22-year-old Steven Camps said although he is grateful he survived, he knows his fate could have been much worse.

"Besides the feeling of being blessed, it's a real disgusting feeling, because I should be going through what they are going through, I got the chance to walk away," Camps said.

Camps and his friend, James, the driver of the car, also walked away unharmed. Camps said were stopped on the highway along with several other cars, because they said they thought it was the smartest thing to do at the time.

"We were sitting in the car, complete stop, talking to the car next to us, he gets hit," Camps said. "Our heads are spinning, and then we get popped twice."

He said the smoke was so thick, you couldn't even tell what was going on.

"Imagine walking and not seeing where you are walking," Camps said. "You can't see anything at all, you just hear everything."

He said he wonders who is going to be held accountable.

"If they had 441 shut down, why wasn't I-75 shut down?" Camps said.

A 20-mile stretch of the interstate was closed again Monday morning because of smoke, but the roadway reopened just before 11 a.m.

FHP and the National Transit Safety Board are both investigating. Gov. Rick Scott called for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate the crash on Monday.

Scott released a statement, saying he will "make available any and all resources from the Executive Office of the Governor, as well as any agency under my supervision, as needed. We will also fully cooperate with any federal investigation which may occur. During this tragic time, our thoughts and prayers should be with the victims and their families."

Watch Local 6 News for more on this story.

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