• November 01, 2022

Five Killed, Three Injured in 3-Vehicle Accident on FL-39 in Hillsborough County

Hillsborough County, FL — October 30, 2022, five people including an infant were killed in a multi-vehicle accident on State Route 39 in Hillsborough County.

Authorities say the incident happened around 9:20 p.m. along Route 39, north of Plant City. Preliminary investigation suggests a Ford Explorer was headed north on the highway when it crossed over the center line for unknown reasons. After entering the oncoming lane it collided almost head-on with a southbound Nissan Frontier. After the initial collision a tractor-trailer crashed into the pickup truck, which was disabled in the southbound lane with its lights off.

The Ford's 20-year-old driver and three of its passengers--a 56-year-old woman and girls ages 1 and 12--died in or soon after the collision. The SUV's three other passengers were said to be in serious condition after the wreck. All were said to be wearing seat belts.

The Nissan driver was pronounced dead at the scene and the semi-truck driver was unhurt.

The investigation continues. No further information is currently available.

Five Killed, Three Injured in 3-Vehicle Accident on FL-39 in Hillsborough County

Commentary on Hillsborough Co Crossover Accident on Rt 39

While I mean no disrespect to law enforcement, a crash this dire with so many unanswered questions may be better entrusted to experienced independent professionals. Their training and tools might be invaluable in seeking the whole truth of what happened, rather than pinning all hope on whatever answers a police report might provide.

Again, that's not a dig at police or their important work. I've just learned over the years that competing priorities, limited staff and resources, and only so much time in the day sometimes mean officers must hurry through their investigations. When they stick to a "by the numbers" approach and look no further, crucial details may slip through the cracks. That can be a huge problem for victims and families in search of answers or help.

Maybe that won't be an issue here, but I have some misgivings. This wouldn't be the first wreck I've seen where an alleged crossover driver was quickly blamed and everyone moved on without a closer look. With the grievous harm done, that simply won't do. The people affected by it, both the injured victims and the families of those who tragically didn't make it, deserve to know no stone was left unturned.

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