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Courts / Law

One Dead in 5th Wrong-Way Highway Crash This Year

Florida Highway Patrol

For the fifth time this year, a wrong-way crash on a Tampa-area interstate has claimed a life.

This morning's crash happened near Dade City in Pasco County. The Florida Highway Patrol says a 25-year-old woman was driving north in the inside lane of I-75 around 4:35 a.m. on Monday. She struck a tractor trailer hauling food and beverage products.

The woman was taken to Bayonet Point Medical Center in Hudson, where she died.

The truck driver wasn't injured.

Southbound traffic on Interstate 75 was diverted at Exit 293, but troopers say all lanes were reopened shortly after 9 a.m.

An investigation is underway. Law enforcement officials said alcohol involvement is suspected.

On Sunday, Chamberlain High School teacher Kevin Thomas Smisor, 24, was arrested after driving the wrong way on both the Selmon Expressway and I-75. FHP officials say Smisor, who didn't hit anything, faces charges of DUI and driving the wrong way on a limited access road.

Including Monday's accident, since February, 11 people have been killed in five accidents caused by drivers going the wrong way on local expressways. 

The Tampa Tribune reports Florida Department of Transportation officials are working on ways to stop such events from occurring.

Kris Carson, a Florida Department of Transportation spokeswoman for District 7, said that the number of wrong-way events in Tampa have persuaded DOT officials to bring a pilot program it hopes will reduce wrong-way driving to Tampa. The program, which includes radar-tripped LED signs that flash a “wrong way” display if a vehicle incorrectly enters an interstate off-ramp, is currently being used along Interstate 10 in Tallahassee and on Florida's Turnpike in South Florida. Carson said DOT engineers also are reviewing signage and pavement markings at exit ramps to ensure that they are not confusing to drivers. “We're working with the Federal Highway Administration and working closely with the Florida Highway Patrol,” Carson said. “The problem is that in two (of the I-275 crashes) the driver made a full U-turn on the interstate. “The driver didn't cross the median and go the wrong way, they turned around in the same lane and went the other direction.”

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