I-95 reopens in Volusia 24 hours after 3 killed in pileup caused by ‘super fog’

Florida troopers continue to investigate series of crashes near Daytona Beach

EDGEWATER, Fla. – Interstate 95 reopened in Volusia County early Friday, more than 24 hours after three people were killed in a series of crashes involving 17 vehicles due to low visibility caused by “super fog.”

The crashes began around 1:30 a.m. Thursday near Edgewater, south of Daytona Beach, according to Florida Highway Patrol spokesperson Kim Montes. She said there were four separate crashes involving 11 vehicles on the northbound side and one crash involving six vehicles heading south.

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A traffic camera captured a tractor-trailer consumed by fire and explosions that sent flames and smoke shooting skyward. Other video from the scene showed a car crushed under the front of a tractor-trailer.

Interstate 95 is the primary north-south highway artery along the U.S. East Coast, running from South Florida to Maine.

“Fog and smoke were in the area at the time,” Montes told The Associated Press.

The smoke was lingering from prescribed burns in the area, and the National Weather Service had warned on Twitter of very low visibility, issuing a dense fog advisory for coastal Volusia County.

For drivers traveling along the interstate at highway speeds, such conditions can be disorienting.

The Florida Highway Patrol will be trying to piece together a timeline of what happened. Montes explained drivers had nearly zero visibility due to super fog and smoke before the wrecks occurred on Thursday.

“Wednesday night we did receive a call about 9:30 p.m. from a woman who was driving along I-95 and said there was smoke in the area. We sent a trooper to the area, and he drove both northbound and southbound, observed the area, could smell light smoke but could see no visibility issues,” Montes said.

She said FHP did receive a burn notice from Florida Forest Service but not a phone call about visibility issues.

“We did not receive a phone call as it’s normal protocol from Division of Forestry to notify our services to notify us of a potential issue that we would need to monitor in this area. We did receive a burn notice,” she said.

Montes said FHP plans to meet with forestry officials to discuss the investigation.

“We want to make sure we are all on the same page so that we can have that communication flowing like the agreement suggested back in 2013,” Montes said.

Two of the dead were traveling south, while the other person died in a northbound crash, Montes said. A child who was airlifted to Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children was in stable condition, and nine other victims were taken to a Halifax Health Medical Center in Daytona Beach with non-life-threatening injuries, according to Montes.

The highway was closed for an 18-mile stretch, and motorists were being rerouted to U.S. 1.

Northbound lanes of the interstate were damaged due to the crashes and fire. Once the debris was cleared, three northbound lanes were re-paved before they were reopened, Montes said in an email.

Prescribed burns by private landowners and government agencies regularly take place in Florida to eliminate potential fuel for uncontrolled wildfires and to promote new plant growth for wildlife, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

About the Authors:

Daniel started with WKMG-TV in 2000 and became the digital content manager in 2009. When he's not working on ClickOrlando.com, Daniel likes to head to the beach or find a sporting event nearby.

Ezzy Castro is a multimedia journalist on News 6's morning team who has a passion for telling the stories of the people in the Central Florida community. Ezzy worked at WFOR CBS4 in South Florida and KBMT in Beaumont, Texas, where she covered Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Being from Miami, Ezzy loves Cuban coffee and croquetas!