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Saturday, September 25, 2021

Fallen wires on I-75 cause car crashes in Marion County

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Five cars crashed Monday afternoon on Interstate 75 after a Duke Energy contractor caused utility wires to fall on the highway, Florida Highway Patrol said.

Burdford’s Tree Inc., based out of Anniston, Alabama, was contracted by Duke Energy to cut a tree on County Road 320 in Marion County, according to an incident report. While cutting the tree, it hit utility wires, causing the wires to fall on all north and southbound lanes of I-75. Only a driver and three passengers in a 2009 Chevrolet Suburban heading north suffered minor injuries.

At about 3 p.m., the driver of the vehicle told troopers he was approaching the overpass of County Road 320 when he saw the wires hanging over I-75, the report said. He slowed down to avoid hitting with the wires, but the front of the car hit them.

After hitting the wires, the SUV came to a stop in the median, authorities said. The driver and passengers reported minor injuries, but no one went to the hospital.

The other car crashes were all separate incidents, and no one else was injured in those crashes, troopers said.

FHP initially reported the company was contracted by Gainesville Regional Utilities to do the tree work. But David Warm, interim communications director, said the utility company doesn’t work with that tree service and their territory doesn’t reach that overpass. FHP later clarified that the company was contracted by Duke Energy. 

FHP did not say when the wires were cleared or if the incident delayed traffic.

Correction: Florida Highway Patrol initially reported Gainesville Regional Utilities contracted the company to work on the trees. It was later confirmed Duke Energy hired the company. This story has been updated to reflect that. 

Contact Meryl Kornfield at mkornfield@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter at @merylkornfield

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