Dangling semi removed after chain-reaction crash on Dames Point Bridge
I-295 NB closed for hours after crash leaves mangled cars, dangling semi
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A chain-reaction crash on the south end of the Dames Point Bridge sent a tractor-trailer over the edge, leaving part of it dangling off the bridge and another part in the St. Johns River, the Florida Highway Patrol said.
The crash, at about 12:45 p.m. Friday on I-295 northbound, left several vehicles mangled but involved just one serious injury, according to the FHP report.
FHP Sgt. Dylan Bryan said a tow truck that was becoming disabled slowed on the narrow right shoulder and travel lane of the bridge but was hit from behind by a Ford F-250. The pickup spun after the impact, hitting a red Kia Rio, and the semi driver behind them tried to avoid the collision but hit the other vehicles as they spun and ended up over the outer barrier, Bryan said.
The box container trailer, which was carrying water, came loose and went into the river, Bryan said. The trailer is lodged in the mud under the bridge and will stay there until a barge can come to remove it. He said that could take several days.
The rest of the semi was left dangling precariously over the edge but was removed just before 4 p.m.
Photos showed the crushed red car and black truck, and Bryan said it was remarkable that only the 52-year-old man driving the pickup was seriously hurt.
"We count our blessings where we may," Bryan said.
That driver, Julio Figueredo, was taken to UF Health hospital but none of the other drivers were transported. The 34-year-old driver of the tow truck, the 42-year-old driver of the Rio and the 39-year-old semi driver all suffered minor injuries, according to the FHP report.
Dunia Rodriguez, Figueredo's fiancee, told News4Jax that she is grateful he survived. She said he has three injured ribs, but is expected to be OK.
A witness who drove by on the southbound side of the bridge said it looked like the vehicles had "played ping-pong" against the sides of the bridge. Chrissie Blume said chunks of the bridge had been visibly damaged in the crash.
The Florida Department of Transportation sent bridge inspectors to scene and said repairs were being made by 3:30 p.m.
Bryan said the bridge was deemed structurally sound and the main route over the St. Johns River to Jacksonville International Airport was reopened just after 5:30 p.m.
The crash had traffic at a near standstill in both directions for three hours. Traffic headed southbound slowed to a crawl as drivers tried to get a look at the precariously dangling semi until it was removed.
The northbound side of the bridge was completely blocked for five hours, and traffic had to be reversed to allow cars that were trapped to get off the bridge.
A line of semis that couldn't be turned around on the bridge lined up waiting to cross as the mangled cars were cleared from the roadway and damage to the bridge was repaired.
Vanessa Perez was one of the thousands of drivers who waited for the bridge to reopen and was one of the first to drive on the reopened bridge.
"I am ready to go home," she said.
According to the FHP report, the pickup truck driver will be cited for careless driving.
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