PALM BAY, Fla. – The northbound lanes of Interstate 95 lanes were closed Thursday in Brevard County because of a fatal crash involving several vehicles, including two trucks, officials said.
The Florida Highway Patrol said one person was killed in the crash, which happened around 9:15 a.m. Thursday just north of the Palm Bay Road exit.
The wreck happened when the tire tread separated on a semi-truck traveling south on I-95.
The truck was hauling an excavator on a trailer, FHP said.
The semi driver lost control and went through the guardrail, while the excavator came off the trailer and struck a truck traveling north on I-95.
"It looked like he was about to hit four or five cars," said Caroline Dotson, a witness.
Dotson said she called 911, ran to the driver who caused the crash, and began praying with him.
"He was coherent. He was alive so that was a good thing," Dotson said.
But when she tried doing the same for the other driver, her worst fears were realized.
"I went over to see if this person would be alright, and someone who was on the northbound side said, 'Honey, don't go over there. They're mangled,'" she said.
Two additional vehicles were hit with debris, but they were unharmed, FHP said.
The semi-driver was taken to the hospital, and the driver of the truck was pronounced dead.
"That driver of the tractor-trailer was killed upon impact," said Lt. Channing Taylor, with FHP. "We've got two tractor-trailers that are completely destroyed."
"We're looking at the earliest of around 5 or 6 this evening before that can be accomplished," said Lt. Taylor.
Crews were also working to clean up 150 gallons of diesel fuel, officials said.
"This is going to be a very expensive cleanup," said Taylor. "We're looking at asphalt. We're looking at man hours. We're looking at guardrail in the neighborhood of about 200 or 300 feet."
FHP said charges are pending.
Troopers Thursday afternoon did not identify the driver who died or the driver who caused the crash.
Meanwhile, an ice cream truck overturned on I-95 north in a crash near Scottsmoor, about 65 miles north of the other wreck.
The FHP said a 34-year-old Mims woman was critically injured in the crash and was taken to Holmes Regional Medical Center. A 34-year-old passenger suffered minor injuries, troopers said. She was taken to Parrish Hospital.
Troopers said the truck began shaking while traveling on the interstate, and then it suddenly swerved, ejecting the driver before hitting a guardrail and overturning.