17-vehicle crash on SR 520 caused by fog, smoke, troopers say

8 injured in 2 wrecks near Nova Road, deputies say

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Eight people were injured Thursday morning in two crashes involving 17 vehicles on State Road 520 in Orange County that were caused by poor visibility, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

The crash was reported on eastbound S.R. 520 near Nova Road not far from the Orange-Brevard county line. S.R. 520 was closed in both directions in the area, but the roadway reopened hours later.

The FHP said the first crash involved two vehicles. Troopers said a woman and her infant were traveling east in the right lane when she approached an area of low visibility and began to slow down. Her vehicle was rear-ended, troopers said.

The second wreck was a chain reaction involving 15 vehicles, the FHP said. Troopers said the first crash involved two vehicles. A woman and her infant were traveling east in the right lane when she approached an area of low visibility and began to slow down. Her vehicle was rear-ended, according to the crash report.

Six victims were taken to Florida Hospital East.Two were taken to the Oviedo emergency room and discharged later on Thursday. The infant was later transferred to Arnold Palmer Hospital as a trauma alert patient, FHP officials said.

[PHOTOS: Multi-vehicle crash closes SR 520]

"We have several vehicles that were struck at a full 65 mph, while another vehicle was either coming to a stop or at a stop, so there's some significant damage to the vehicles," Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Channing Taylor said. "If you look at the vehicles, you'd be amazed that so many people lived through some of these collisions."

Deputies cited heavy fog and smoke as the reasons for the pileup.

"That's the problem when you go from good visibility to zero visibility at the snap of a finger," Taylor said. "The forecast didn't call for anything to blow out in the roadway. Visibility was really good in other areas, but all of a sudden it deteriorated very quickly."

FHP spokesperson Sgt. Kim Montes said the Florida Forest Service communicates to FHP through dispatchers to let them know about potential issues.

Generally, when a controlled burned is scheduled in an area that may affect state roads, the Department of Forestry will alert FHP. However, Montes said FHP was not notified of the burn close to SR 520.

Cliff Frazier with the Florida Forest Service said an email was sent out through dispatch Wednesday morning.

"I got with my dispatch and they confirmed to me that it was on the list," Frazier said. "We don't know where or how the ball got dropped, but it was on the list that went out yesterday morning."

The Department of Agriculture is also investigating the case. A media representative said that is a standard procedure.

Both crashes remain under investigation and charges are pending in each of them.

The Orange County Sheriff's Office initially said that 18 vehicles were involved in the wreck. 

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