NTSB releases preliminary report on deadly I-75 crash that killed 7 in January

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB)-- The National Transportation Safety Board has released its preliminary report on the deadly crash that happened on January 3, 2019, that killed 7 people.

In the report, the NTSB goes through the series of events they are able to establish based on witness testimony and forensic evidence but does not place blame for the accident.

The report says that around 3:41 pm, a 2016 Freightliner truck traveling in the northbound lane of I-75 around mile market 393 stuck a 2016 Acura, pushing it through the median and into oncoming traffic in the southbound lanes.

They say the 2016 Freightliner then hit a 2006 Chevy 12-passenger van, causing it to roll over twice before coming to a rest upright, also damaging a 2006 Chevy pickup truck in the process.

After hitting the van, the 2016 Freightliner continue through and hit a 2018 Freightliner, ejecting the driver of the 2016 Freightliner, that the report says was not wearing their safety belt. A fire then started from the fuel tank of the 2016 Freightliner.

The driver of the Acura was able to get out of their car on their own before the flames fully took it.

5 of the passengers in the van were wearing their belts, but 3 of those were ejected anyways. The driver and passenger of the van were also belted and were not ejected. They also say that the driver of the 2018 Freightliner and the pickup truck were also wearing their safety belts.

In total, 5 vehicles and 16 passengers were involved in the crash, 7 of which were killed. The fatalities included the drivers of the two Freightliners and the five passengers of the van who were ejected. This number only includes those killed during and immediately after the crash.

They also note that the driver of the 2016 Freightliner had a commercial driver's license that would expire in 2022 and that his medical certificate was current through February of 2020. Also, they say he was operating within the regulated hours of service.

Finally, they say that the crash remains under investigation as they try to determine the ultimate cause of the crash and any safety recommendations they can make to prevent similar crashed in the future.