‘Pulling luggage down the highway:’ Fatal crash causes major delays into Orlando International Airport

2 dead in crash on Jeff Fuqua Boulevard

The crash occurred at 2:31 a.m. and left two people dead.

ORLANDO, Fla. – A fatal crash near Orlando International Airport Saturday morning forced the closure of lanes and slowed traffic on Jeff Fuqua Boulevard heading toward OIA, according to the Orlando Police Department.

The crash occurred at 2:31 a.m. and left two people dead, identified by police as 34-year-old Erica Pacheco and 56-year-old David Morales.

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A Land Rover with four occupants traveling south on Jeff Fuqua Boulevard near Cargo Road left the roadway to the right for unknown reasons, striking a concrete wall and flipping over into a canal, police said.

Pacheco and Morales, who were both passengers in the car, were taken to the hospital where they were pronounced dead, police said. The car’s driver and another passenger reportedly suffered minor injuries.

The car has since been removed from the water. Airport officials said repairs to the fence are now underway.

As of 12:36 p.m., officials reported 125 flight delays at OIA. Though officials said it was unknown if or how many of the delays were caused by the fatal crash, a spokesperson said the slowdown most likely had an impact considering how some pilots and airline crews were also caught in the traffic.

Drivers in the area — specifically those traveling to OIA via its north entrance — were told to expect delays before the scene was cleared, police said.

In an update at 8:35 a.m., police said traffic had begun flowing again as officers and crews worked to clear the scene and open more lanes, yet some delays remained on Semoran Boulevard to T.G. Lee Boulevard. A later update from police on Twitter at 10:59 a.m. reported all lanes were back open and no traffic delays remained.

Joseph Giordano and his daughter left their Volusia County home around 4 a.m. Saturday to catch a 7 a.m. flight at OIA. He said they got caught in the traffic as they were pulling into the airport.

“Got to the bottom of the on ramp for the airport and then sat in traffic for about two hours and missed our flight,” Giordano said.

He took video showing the lines of cars stuck on the ramp.

“People were turning around on the bridge on the on-ramp to drive backwards against traffic to get out of the traffic,” Giordano said. “People were pulling luggage down the highway trying to get to their flights on time. We didn’t want to take that chance, especially with people driving in the wrong direction. We just stayed in our vehicle and waited.”

Giordano said he tried calling the airport and police to get information, but that no one knew what was going on. He said he was frustrated by the lack of communication.

“After we found out that it was an accident and somebody lost their lives, obviously we feel terrible about that, but it was just frustrating not knowing what was going on,” he said.

A spokesperson for OIA said the airport retweeted OPD’s initial message with the crash information, adding this was an emergency incident and different agencies were responding to try to get traffic moving. Officials added this is a busy thoroughfare and the road had to be shut down due to the fatal crash. Officials said they will review and evaluate what happened.

No other details have been released. Police said an investigation is ongoing.

To donate to Pacheco’s family to help cover the cost of funeral expenses, visit their GoFundMe.

This is a developing story. Check back with News 6 for updates.

Note: Based on the information provided, this map depicts the general area of this crash and not necessarily its exact location.


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About the Authors:

Brandon, a UCF grad, joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021. Before joining News 6, Brandon worked at WDBO.

Amanda Castro, a proud UCF alum, joined the News 6 team in November 2015 and was promoted to weekend morning anchor in April 2016. Go Knights!