18 people hurt after 17-car crash on S.R. 520

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Smoke and fog were likely the cause of a pile-up involving as many as 17 cars Thursday morning on State Road 520, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.  

“If you look at the vehicles it would be a miracle that anybody lived through some of these collisions,” said FHP Lt. Channing Taylor.

No one was killed, but FHP said six people were taken to Florida Hospital East and two other people were transported to the Oviedo E.R. The infant from the crash was later transported to the Arnold Palmer as a trauma alert. 

The FHP has also reported that the total of 17 vehicles were involved in two separate crashes at approximately 6:00 a.m.

They say that the first crash involved two vehicles. A woman was with her infant traveling eastbound when she approached an area of low visibility and began to slow down. Her vehicle was rear-ended by another vehicle that was behind her.

Then, they say the chain reaction crash of the other 15 vehicles occurred. All vehicles were traveling eastbound.

According to Taylor, officials believe that around 6 a.m. smoke from a prescribed burn combined with fog from the St. John’s River knocking visibility down to almost nothing over an approximately half-mile stretch of the road.  

Florida Forest Service spokesman Cliff Frazier told The News Station a prescribed burn took place on private land on Wednesday about a mile from the road.

Frazier said the Forest Service typically notifies FHP if they think smoke will affect drivers, but in this case distance and weather conditions led them to believe it wouldn’t.

Frazier said the Forest Service is still investigating whether or not smoke from that burn is responsible for the pile-up.

“The conditions can change in the snap of a finger, the shifting of the wind, and it doesn’t even have to be a large area.  It can be a quarter mile stretch.  And it goes down to zero visibility,” Taylor said, adding that FHP will monitor conditions in the area over the next few days.