WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. (AP) — The southbound lanes of Interstate 75 in Pasco County will be closed until at least 6 p.m., officials said Thursday following a fiery early-morning crash involving a tractor trailer and a dump truck.
The Florida Highway Patrol said no one was injured in the 6:30 a.m. crash. Both drivers got out of their vehicles and were taken to hospitals for observation.
FHP spokesman Steve Gaskins said crews will have to repair the damaged asphalt on the interstate, which will take most of the day. He said both vehicles should be removed within a few hours.
Officials from the U.S. Postal Service were at the scene to collect mail, much of which was burned or destroyed in the fire. Debby Fetterly, a spokeswoman for the postal service, told the Tampa Bay Times (http://bit.ly/YtOauR ) the truck was carrying magazines and third-class mail from Jacksonville to Tampa. Officials were trying to figure out how to notify customers and deliver the damaged mail.
Gaskins said southbound traffic was cleared from I-75 by about 9:30 a.m. Traffic is being diverted to exit 279 toward State Road 54.
The mail truck crashed into a construction zone guardrail before partially jackknifing into the center median. A dump truck crashed into the truck, resulting in the fire.
FHP said the truck was operated by Jacksonville-based Pat Salmon & Sons of Florida. Driver Mark Alan Berrier, 55, was taken to University Community Hospital in Tampa. The dump truck’s driver, Manuel Francisco Rodriguez Rivera, 42, was taken to Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel. His truck belongs to R & D Hauling of Land ‘O Lakes.
An investigation is continuing.