Mother wants safety upgrades after daughter injured in crash

Gabbriella Manges was hurt June 13 after hydroplaning while merging onto I-295

By Scott Johnson - Reporter

ORANGE PARK, Fla. - A Clay County woman is fighting for her life after a tragic crash while she was merging onto Interstate 295.

The crash happened as it was raining June 13 at the on-ramp from U.S. 17 where drivers merge onto the Buckman Bridge.

Gabbriella Manges, 20, of Green Cove Springs, was heading to Publix on University Boulevard where she works as a pharmacy technician.

Manges' mother, Mary, said her daughter hydroplaned at the end of the ramp and wound up in the middle of traffic on I-295. Her daughter suffered a shattered jaw among other injuries.

"(She) was starting to approach the merging lane and her car just left the roadway and went right into traffic and was T-boned by a garbaged truck going 70 miles per hour," she said.

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Manges said it's the fourth traffic crash at the intersection in the past month. She said a woman who reached out to her on Facebook described similar circumstances in a separate wreck at the same spot.

"After seeing the accident, she felt the need to let me know her car did the same thing, was T-boned also. There's no protective rail there," Manges said Monday.

According to figures provided by the Florida Department of Transportation, there were 24 crashes reported at the ramp from 2012 through 2016, including 20 in which wet pavement was a factor.

As a result of that five-year study, the agency will be putting down high-friction pavement in the hopes of reducing the threat of collisions during wet weather. There's no timetable for the upgrades.

A News4Jax crew drove the same ramp and noticed there isn't a guarddrail at the tail end of the on-ramp where traffic merges onto I-295. Manges said she believes one ought to be installed.

Gabriella Manges has been removed recently from the intensive care unit to the trauma intensive care unit at Orange Park Medical Center, her mother said. She said her daughter's team has been amazing.

"The staff here has been unbelieveable," she said. "To see where she came from and where she's at now. I'm holding on. She's going to get better, (and) I'm going to take it one day at a time."

She said her daughter has not yet been able to speak again, but noted that she has been able to move her eyes. The family said they might move the 20-year-old to Atlanta for rehabilitation at some point.

Manges said the driver of the garbage truck has reached out to her family, as well.

"He hasn't been able to sleep, wondering how she's doing," she said. "So he brought me the pictures, saying she wasn't speeding. She was going with the flow of traffic."

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