Troopers: Deadly New Year’s pileup in Columbia County involved 45+ people, 21 vehicles

This file photo shows a Florida Highway Patrol cruiser. (WJXT)

The Florida Highway Patrol said Tuesday that troopers continue to investigate a “chain reaction of collisions” early New Year’s Day in Columbia County that involved nearly two dozen vehicles and left three people dead.

According to FHP, more than 45 people were involved in the incident, which happened around 12:40 a.m. Sunday on Interstate 75 near the exit for U.S. 441.

Troopers said a series of collisions occurred as 21 vehicles were traveling north — a Ford F-150, a transit van, a Lexus RX 300, a Lexus RX 350, a Nissan 3500 van and trailer, a Toyota RAV4, a Toyota Corolla, a Lincoln Navigator, a Ford F-250, a Dodge Ram pickup and trailer, a Nissan Sentra, a Ford Maverick pickup and trailer, a Ford Mustang, a Kia Soul, a Chevrolet Suburban, a Subaru Outback, a TEMSA charter bus, which had 15 passengers onboard, a Toyota Camry, and three Nissan Altimas.

According to troopers, three of the people involved in the incident were killed — two men and a woman, all of whom were from Chicago, Illinois.

Troopers said some drivers and passengers were injured and transported by five rescue units to Lake City Medical Center or to UF Health Shands Hospital. Troopers said they’re still working to determine the exact number of people who were hurt, as some of them drove themselves to a medical facility.

It took about 12 hours for the interstate to reopen — once FHP’s Major Crash Investigation Unit collected evidence and all of the vehicles were removed.

The Highway Patrol said “investigators will have more specific facts, data and details of what occurred that caused the chain reaction of collisions” after the “large-scale investigation” is concluded.