A driver was killed Thursday in a crash that closed a portion of State Road 60 in Lake Wales for more than six hours, according to Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
The crash occurred about 2:30 p.m. at 19300 S.R. 60 East, deputies said. A Mercedes was heading west when it collided head-on with an oncoming tractor-trailer, killing the driver of the Mercedes.
The car was engulfed in flames. Deputies have not been able to identify the driver because of the extent of the fire's damage.
The driver of the tractor-trailer was not injured.
The crash had cars backed up in both directions until about 9 p.m. when the accident was cleared.
Chief Hightower, 87, waited in the traffic for more than five hours. By the time the road reopened, his oxygen tank was almost empty.
"I've never experienced anything like that," he said.
Guy Griffin lives off of S.R. 60, yards away from where the crash occurred. He called the highway "an accident waiting to happen.'
"It's a miracle there isn't a death there every day," Griffin said.
A lieutenant with the Polk County Sheriff's Office confirmed there have been numerous accidents along the two-lane highway.
Neighbors believe the road needs to be widened to four lanes.
"The powers that be need to be notified and do something about it because it's a death trap," Hightower said.
"I think the best bet is to widen the road. I see no other way to alleviate it," Griffin said.
According to statistics from the Florida Department of Transportation, from 2008 to 2012 there have been four fatal crashes on S.R. 60 between County Road 630 East and Grape Hammock Road. The last two years of data were unavailable, according to FDOT.