One person was killed and two others hospitalized Friday when a tractor-trailer careened into vehicles in the northbound lanes of Interstate 75 near Ellenton.
The crash occurred just before 4:30 p.m. on the bridge over the Manatee River near the U.S. 301 exit, according to Florida Highway Patrol.
The tractor-trailer, driven by Wadel Jones, 61, was headed north over the bridge when it ran into traffic, a trooper at the scene told ABC Action News. Because the truck was hauling a heavy load, it was unable to stop and crashed into the vehicles, causing them to collide with other vehicles.
A white Lincoln SUV careened into the eastern side of the bridge, catching fire, a trooper said. The driver of the vehicle was killed.
Woody's River Roo sits on the water, overlooking a span of the I-75 bridge in Manatee County.
Customers and employees watched in horror as multiple cars and a tractor-trailer smashed into each other in the I-75 northbound lanes.
"The car was still rolling and it just burst into flames." said Tim Llewellyn, who witnessed the wreck from the restaurant.
George Moore, a manager at the restaurant, watched as drivers got out of their cars trying to help.
"There were flames 15 to 20 feet high and I mean no one could get to it. People kept running up to it, kind of getting close and then have to run back away from it. No one could get near it," Moore said.
"You are just -- you're helpless. All we could sit and do was watch," he added.
The northbound lanes were closed until just after 9 p.m.
Jones was taken to Manatee Memorial with serious injuries.
The driver who died in the Lincoln has not yet been identified.
According to FHP, the truck driver will face non-criminal charges in the crash.