Driver injured in fiery hit-and-run crash of 2 semis in Starke

Northbound lanes of US 301 remained blocked 10 hours after crash


STARKE, Fla. – A Jacksonville truck driver was hospitalized with serious injuries Friday night following a crash involving two semitrucks on U.S. 301, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. 

FHP says the incident, which shut down all lanes of U.S. 301 at State Road 200 for several hours, is considered a hit-and-run.

Troopers said an unknown tractor-trailer was traveling north on 301 in the right lane about 9:10 p.m. Friday when it swerved out of the lane and hit the Freightliner, pushing it into a concrete barrier wall.

After hitting the wall, the Freightliner continued forward and collided with a Dodge Ram pickup truck and its trailer. The Freightliner then caught fire.

The driver of the Freightliner, Thomas Poppe, 52, was taken to UF Health in Gainesville with serious injuries.

The driver and passenger of the pickup, a couple from Westminster, Massachusetts, were not injured. 

The unknown commercial motor vehicle left the scene of the crash. Troopers describe it as a tractor pulling an enclosed box trailer and possibly having damages to its right side.

FHP is asking for information regarding this crash.

According to the Bradford County Sheriff's Office, southbound lanes of 301 reopened overnight, but northbound lanes remained still closed due to damage to the road from the fire and fuel spill. Traffic was being detoured through an unpaved road in the construction zone.