SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Traffic was snarled for hours in south Sarasota County after a fiery crash involving two semi-trucks. A driver hauling ice cream was killed when his truck burst into flames.
Just after 5 a.m. Tuesday morning, flames shot up into the dark sky along Interstate 75 in North Port.
The sunrise later revealed what was left behind, the charred remains of an ice cream truck. Melted ice cream colored the ground below.
Troopers said the truck was moving with the flow of traffic and the driver didn’t notice a beer truck just ahead was driving very slowly.
The ice cream truck slammed right into it.
“There was no evidence on scene to suggest that he tried to brake, either to the left or the right,” explained Trooper Kenn Watson.
The ice cream truck driver, 27-year-old Matthew Simon, didn’t survive the blaze.
“You could see the flames above the trees over here along the interstate,” said witness Wayne Morrison.
Morrison heard the crash and rushed outside. He was worried it would spark a wildfire.
“As dry as its been down here, we haven’t had hardly any rain for four or five months, and I was scared to death that it would jump the road and be over here in a heartbeat,” said Morrison.
Crews were able to knock down the flames, but the ordeal slowed down traffic for hours. It took a while for crews to clean the mess and recover Matthew Simon.
“There was not a lot left of the gentleman,” Morrison said.
“The entire cab had disintegrated, the engine actually fell out of the vehicle when they were lifting it up to put it on a flatbed,” Morrison added.
Officials said this should serve as a warning, be aware of slow drivers on the interstate and don’t drive distracted.
“You need to have that good spatial orientation, who’s in front of me, how far in front of me are they? You wanna make sure you have that safe distance in case that vehicle is traveling at a slower rate of speed than yourself,” said Trooper Watson.
“Slow down a little bit, pay attention to what you’re doing! It’s too dangerous out there. Those vehicles can do an awful lot of damage,” said Morrison.
The driver of the beer truck, 61-year-old Fernando Rivera, was taken to a hospital and treated for minor injuries.
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