ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. - Interstate 95 between County Road 210 and International Golf Parkway was shut down for several hours Thursday morning following multiple serious crashes in the area.
Two people were taken to the hospital by helicopter after two separate serious crashes on that stretch of I-95 in St. Johns County, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
About 4:50 a.m., FHP troopers responded to the first crash involving a tractor-trailer and three cars on I-95 southbound near International Golf Parkway and Mile Marker 324.
A trooper told Channel 4 at the scene that a semi carrying hazardous materials was hit by a car driven by 23-year-old Jennifer Edwards, of St. Augustine, then another semi struck that car. The driver of the first car got out, only to be hit by yet another car.
Edwards, who was not wearing a seat belt, was taken by helicopter to Orange Park Medical Center. According to FHP, her injuries were life-threatening and the accident was being investigated as a traffic homicide.
No others involved in that crash were injured. Troopers said charges and blood alcohol content results are pending.
"You have to be very cautious after an incident occurs," FHP Sgt. Dylan Bryan said. "If you're able to move the vehicle from the roadway or the lanes of travel, we strongly suggest you do that that way if a secondary collision doesn't occur behind you."
Two left lanes southbound remained closed after 9 a.m. due to the initial crash, as well as one left lane northbound due to debris from the crash.
A couple of hours after the first wreck at about 7:05 a.m., another accident occurred about four miles away. Troopers said the driver of a Ford Explorer, 38-year-old James Harris of Palm Coast, wasn't paying attention, veered to avoid the slow traffic, sideswiped a big rig and rear-ended a car driven by 32-year-old Jolie Hoyt. A helicopter was brought back to the area to take Hoyt to Orange Park Medical Center with life-threatening injuries. Harris suffered serious injuries, and two other drivers involved in the crash had only minor injuries, according to FHP.
Troopers said charges are also pending in that crash.
The crashes resulted in a major traffic back up just north of C.R. 210 on I-95 southbound. Drivers were advised to avoid the area and to take U.S. Highway 1 as an alternate route.
All lanes were clear and reopened to traffic about 11 a.m. Thursday.
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