Missteps and miscommunication by Florida Highway Patrol supervisors occurred in the early hours of Jan. 29 when troopers closed and then prematurely reopened Interstate 75 moments before a string of deadly wrecks, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement concluded Thursday. The Gainesville Sun said the 38-page report details failures to follow policies, differences of opinion between FHP troopers and command staff and other problems that morning, when smoke and fog reduced visibility to nothing on I-75 near Gainesville. About 20 vehicles were involved in six separate crashes on both sides of I-75 that killed 11 people and hospitalized 22 others.
No one from FHP has been disciplined for their actions that night. A spokeswoman for the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, which includes the Highway Patrol, said it’s too early to consider disciplinary action. That disturbed at least one survivor of the crashes. “This is taking it so lightly it’s ridiculous,” Bernie DeWit said. DeWit, 58, of Grand Rapids, Mich., suffered a broken back in the wrecks, while his wife, Margie, 56, has not yet awakened from the coma she has been in since the accident.