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FHP defends Handling of Deadly I-75 Crash, Blames Drivers

The Florida Highway Patrol is defending itself against an investigative report criticizing how the agency handled the deadly Interstate-75 crash in late January. The agency’s response released Friday places much of the blame on the drivers in the incident, which left 11 people dead.

A Florida Department of Law Enforcement report says the Highway Patrol made mistakes re-opening the Interstate-75 highway near Gainesville too early, while it was covered in smoke and fog. The report adds procedural and communication issues led to a string of six separate fatal crashes.

But, in its own response, the Highway Patrol countered that driver behavior contributed to the crashes because drivers are responsible for adapting to roadway conditions, including weather. Julie Jones is the Executive Director of the state’s Department of Safety and Motor Vehicles, which oversees the Highway Patrol.

“We’ll let the crash reports and the response to the FDLE crash reports stand on its own,” said Jones.

While choosing to not comment further, the department is faced with at least 13 lawsuit notices from the injured and family of the dead.