New dash cam video released in Interstate 75 crash

Video shows FHP sergeant's warning about reopening road

Published On: May 03 2012 01:26:29 PM EDT   Updated On: May 03 2012 08:45:36 PM EDT
Deadly I-75 crash
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -

New dash camera video was released in the fatal Alachua County Interstate 75 pileup back, giving more details in what happened leading up to the accident-and even the accident itself.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement said a captain denied that anyone warned that keeping I-75 open was a bad idea. In the new video you hear a sergeant speaking angrily, complaining that no one listened to his warning.

"I tried to tell them to leave that son of a buck closed, and they wouldn't listen to me," Sgt. Bruce Simmons said in the video. "I said, 'It's going to roll in again. Leave it closed.' 'Oh, Lord, no, we're gonna open this up.' I was grabbing some breakfast, and I told the trooper, I said, 'Thirty, 45 minutes, you watch.'"

The road was closed around midnight and reopened a few hours later. Lt. John Gourley made the call to open the highway despite Simmons' warnings.
WKMG-TV showed the dashcam video to one of the survivors in the crash.

"Phew, haven't seen anything like that yet," said Jason Rentfrow of Gaineville. He said he was one of the 22 that were hurt in the pileup caused by low visibility from smoke from a smoldering brush fire burning near the highway.

Rentfrow said his attorney advised him not to comment on the video, but he told WKMG-TV in Orlando he has been struggling since the accident. He said he's had to take off a semester of college and seek counseling.

An attorney for another injured driver said the road never should have reopened.
"It is disheartening what happened-and unnecessary," said attorney Christopher Chesnut. "I don't think that there was any willful or wantonness on individual officers. These people sacrifice their life every day to protect us citizens on Florida highways. I think that they were understaffed and overworked and there was a lack of communication and a tragedy occurred. "

Florida Highway Patrol is undergoing an internal investigation, according to an FHP spokesperson.