TAMPA (FOX 13) - A crash involving several vehicles caused major delays on the Howard Frankland Bridge this morning and left a Road Ranger in critical condition.
The Florida Highway Patrol says it happened shortly after 7 a.m., and initially only involved two vehicles- a Dodge pickup truck and a Chevy sedan.
Both vehicles had pulled into the emergency lane, and a Road Ranger had parked behind them to assist them when things took a terrible turn.
Troopers say a passing utility truck carrying drywall and other construction supplies veered into the emergency lane for unknown reasons, and hit both the Road Ranger vehicle and the Chevy involved in the initial accident.
The impact then sent the Chevy into the Dodge pickup truck and then up onto the guard rail.
Troopers say the utility truck flipped in the process and landed upside down, but it was the driver of the Road Ranger, Omer Duncan, who received the worst injuries.
"We look at the truck and don't know how he made it out," said Road Ranger Supervisor Randy Alvarez.
Duncan was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital where he remained in critical condition Thursday afternoon. Fellow Rangers tell FOX 13 he is in good spirits and thankfully was inside his vehicle at the time of the crash.
"I don't say he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, he was at the right place. He was doing his job assisting somebody and that's what happens," said Alvarez, who says he routinely witnesses motorists breaking the move over law. "We see people constantly not obeying it. It's amazing. We know sometimes everybody can't move over, but we ask that they at least slow down for us. We're out there to assist the public so we can help them, all we ask in return is that they look out for us."
For a time, the bridge was reduced to one southbound lane, resulting in delays back to Dale Mabry Highway for most of the morning commute. But things had cleared by 10:30.
The driver of the utility vehicle, Ryan Mistal, has been cited for carelss driving and failure to carry/exhibit a driver's license.