KENANSVILLE, Fla. - State Road 60 reopened late Wednesday afternoon after being closed for nearly 12 hours. Troopers with the Florida Highway Patrol say a three-vehicle crash killed one person and injured 16 others. Among those injured were prison inmates traveling in a bus.
The FHP said the crash involving a Mitsubishi box truck, a Dodge Ram Pickup truck, and a Motor Coach transit bus happened shortly after 6 a.m. in the southern part of the county near Peavine Road, west of Yeehaw Junction.
A 52-year-old male passenger of the Dodge Ram Pickup from Port St. Lucie was pronounced dead at the scene, troopers said. The driver of the Dodge and the driver of the Mitsubishi were both airlifted to Osceola Regional Hospital with critical injuries, but were in stable condition.
The Motor Coach transit bus was carrying 23 inmates from the Polk County Correctional Facility who were traveling on their work-release program from Polk City to Okeechobee, the FHP said. Fourteen were transported to area hospitals by ambulance, but none had life-threatening injuries.
A witness told FHP that the Dodge Ram was traveling westbound on State Road 60 when the driver of the Dodge attempted to pass another car that was traveling in the westbound lane.
"It was dark, and it was foggy at the time of the crash," explained FHP Lt. Tara Crescenzi. "The witness says the pickup driver went to pass the vehicle and that’s when they entered the lane in the direct path of the box truck."
The drivers of both vehicles swerved in an attempt to avoid a crash but a collision occurred. The Mitsubishi was also struck from behind by a 2015 Motor Coach.
Drivers like Greg Fischer said you have to be extra careful on the two-lane highway. "That’s a tragedy," he said. "Right down that stretch of Highway 60 is still two lanes with some passing lanes and people do get impatient, and there’s no telling what really went on with that."
"It’s a little frustrating, but these things happen," said driver Teresa Brittain, who was caught off guard by a roadblock as troopers conducted their investigation. "We weren’t sure why it was blocked off."
The crash remains under investigation.