NORTHWEST MIAMI-DADE(CBS4) – A driver whose tractor trailer struck another 18-wheeler and killed its driver and injured two passengers claimed the crash was “an accident,” but also said he can’t remember what happened because he suffered a concussion.
The Florida Highway Patrol says the accident happened in the darkness at 5:35 a.m. at the intersection of Northwest 138th Street and Okeechobee Road when one of the tractor trailers did not stop as required by law at a flashing red light.
It was not clear which truck had a flashing red light, according to Trooper Joe Sanchez of the FHP.
“The law clearly states that a flashing red light means stop and a flashing yellow light means use caution and if everyone would obey the traffic signals this way, we could avoid accidents such as these,” said Sanchez.
CBS4′S Peter D’Oench spoke with truck driver Lazaro Rojas as he stood by the wreckage of his tractor trailer while crews cleared debris from the scene.
“Can you tell me what happened?” asked D’Oench.
“Nope,” said Rojas. “It was an accident. One (truck) was coming this way. The other one was going that way. That’s it. An accident.”
“Do you remember anything else about it at all?” asked D’Oench.
“Nope,” said Rojas.
“Was there a flashing red light?” D’Oench asked.
“I don’t know,” said Rojas.
“Did you go through a flashing red light?” Rojas was asked.
“I don’t know,” he said.
“Did you stop at the intersection?” Rojas was asked.
“I don’t know. I say I don’t know. I don’t remember. I lost my memory.”
“Because of a concussion?” D’Oench asked.
“Yeah,” Rojas said.
Trooper Sanchez told CBS4 the accident happened when Rojas’ tractor trailer was southbound on N.W. 138th Street and struck another tractor trailer that was eastbound on Okeechobee Road.
That tractor trailer then smashed into and through a concrete wall above a canal. Its cab disengaged and fell into the water. The driver of the truck was thrown from the cab. His body was later found floating in the canal. Two passengers survived.
“One passenger was able to climb out and get on to Okeechobee Road. The other one survived by seeking an air hole in the cab. He was treated by Miami-Dade Fire Rescue and taken along with the other passenger to Palmetto General Hospital,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez said Rojas’ tractor trailer was transporting sugar.
“As you can see, the tractor trailer with the red cab was transporting sugar and there’s sugar all over Okeechobee Road and the other truck was transporting water,” Sanchez said.
Eastbound traffic on Okeechobee Road was diverted northbound on to Northwest 138th Street as a result of crews working at the scene.
The deceased truck driver is identified as Baltazar Salazar, 48, of Immokalee. Salazar’s two passengers were not identified.
A crew for the Department of Environmental Resources Management (D.E.R.M.) was also on the scene, monitoring the cleanup efforts because it was believed that diesel fuel from one of the tractor trailers had spilled into the canal.
Shortly after noon, crews removed the cab of the trailer trailer that had disengaged from the canal off Okeechobee Road.
So far, no one has been cited.
Running a red light can mean a $179 fine and three points against your drivers license.