• June 20, 2022

Woman Killed by Airborne Gas Tank after Truck Crash on I-75 in Tampa, FL

Tampa, FL — June 17, 2022, a 49-year-old Ruskin woman was killed when her car was hit by an airborne natural gas tank after two big rigs collided on I-75 in Tampa.

According to reports the incident happened around 10:00 a.m. on Interstate 75 near exit 256 for the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway. Preliminary investigation suggests a northbound tractor-trailer drifted off-course for unknown reasons and collided with another 18-wheeler that was stopped on the shoulder.

After the impact the natural gas tanks on the first semi-trailer separated and went airborne, then fell onto a nearby Buick Enclave SUV. The trailer of the parked truck, loaded with clothing, caught fire.

The Buick's passenger suffered fatal injuries when the gas tank hit the SUV. Its driver and two juvenile passengers reportedly received minor injuries. Both truck drivers also received minor injuries.

The investigation continues. No further information is currently available.

Commentary on Airborne Gas Tank Accident on I-75 in Tampa

The details of this accident aren't exactly typical. Investigators likely have their hands full putting together not only what happened, but why. Why did the northbound truck driver lose control? How fast was that truck traveling, and why did its gas tanks detach? Why was the other truck stopped on the shoulder?

Those are just some of the broadest strokes that still need addressing, but there are dozens of more specific questions to answer as well. I just hope law enforcement is up to the task of putting the whole picture together--as well as determining who should be held responsible.

Woman Killed by Airborne Gas Tank after Truck Crash on I-75 in Tampa, FL

I don't mean to insult the hard (and often thankless) work police do. People may just not realize that traffic investigations don't always get much of a local department's limited resources. Because of that many crash scenes, even complex ones, are quickly examined before a best guess is recorded and the file is closed. Furthermore, police look specifically to see if laws were broken--not for evidence to help victims get back on their feet. Unless someone looks again on their behalf, critical details might be overlooked or evidence lost. That can be very problematic later when trying to get help for people who need it.

To be clear, I'm not saying police will mishandle this investigation--nor am I saying one way or the other what exactly happened in Florida. Knowing that hinges on finding all the objective facts, which brings me back to my concern about law enforcement: Unfortunately police can't or don't always properly evaluate all the complexities of an unusual crash like this. That's why I often advise victims and their families to work with independent experts. They might still find or confirm a simple explanation for the events in Tampa, but only after thorough investigation can anyone be sure. Any steps beyond simply learning the truth would depend on what that truth turns out to be.

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