When Trucks Collide: 2 Dead, 1 Injured in State Road 80 Tractor-Trailer Crash

A tragic crash involving two tractor trailers and a small Mazda sedan left two people dead in early March 2016. South Bay resident Jeremy Banks, 21 left for work at 4am to get to his job at the Osceola Farms sugar cane mill. He would never make it there.

While turning onto the poorly lit State Road 80 Banks failed to notice the tractor-trailer barreling down in his direction. Driven by Martin Willis Gray, 54 of Ocala, the eastbound tractor-trailer t-boned Bank’s Mazda shattering the small car into pieces and killing the young driver. Willis then lost control of his tractor-trailer, which jumped the median and collided with a westbound tractor-trailer driven by Erick Vinson, 54 of Palm Beach.

Upon impact Willis went into a rollover that left the trailer on its roof and his cab rolled over on the drivers’ side. Willis was pronounced dead on the scene prior to investigators arriving. Vinson’s tractor-trailer careened off of the road, but he managed to escape the cab as it caught fire and engulfed his truck in flames. Rescue workers flew Vinson to St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach where he remained in critical condition.

Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles report at least 24 crashes on the 15-mile stretch of State Road 80 that runs between Hooker and Connors highways. There are four reported deaths since 2015 on that stretch of road, which is surrounded mostly by farmland providing little-to-no additional lighting for drivers. There are just four traffic lights on the road, and many of the entrances and exits on the roadway require careful maneuvers that are difficult at night.

As the story above illustrates, truck accidents are devastating. These large tractor-trailers just decimate passenger cars in most collisions. When the truck driver then loses control of their eighteen-wheeler it causes even more damage. Furthermore, studies show that road fatigue affects 1-in-5 drivers of tractor-trailers with many of them reporting having nodded off behind the wheel.

The tragic accident on State Road 80 claimed two lives and injured a third. Many factors could have contributed to this crash, including driver error on both sides of the initial collision. At this point it will be up to the victims and their families to decide their courses of action. We strongly advise anyone involved in a truck accident to contact an experienced Florida Accident Lawyer.

If you or a loved one has been impacted by a truck accident then you should hire an attorney with extensive knowledge of Florida truck laws. The attorneys at Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath have handled hundreds of cases involving commercial trucks. We have the experience and financial resources to take on the most powerful trucking companies and insurance giants. Call today for a free consultation.