Fuel tanker driver fell asleep at wheel, caused crash that closed I-4 in Lakeland

EB I-4 had been closed at Exit 31 since 5 AM

TAMPA - Eastbound I-4 from Exit 31/Kathleen Road to Exit 28/Memorial Boulevard in Lakeland has been reopened after a tanker crash that occurred at approximately 5 AM. Eastbound traffic had been forced off of the interstate at Exit 28 to EB Memorial/US-92. 

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Lucius Hamilton Lawrence, 33, of Winter Garden, FL, fell asleep at the wheel of a gasoline trailer - with approximately 8,700 gallons of gas and diesel fuel on board - while driving on I-4 near Kathleen Road (MM 31) in Lakeland. At approximately 5 AM, the truck collided with a guardrail and flipped on the side of I-4. Lawrence was taken to Lakeland Regional Medical Center with minor injuries, and has been charged with careless driving.

All lanes of eastbound I-4 were closed at the crash scene at approximately 5:25 AM. Members of the Fire Department frequently sprayed the tanker with flame-retardant foam while waiting for the fuel to be drained. The tanker was emptied by 11:45, and was removed from the scene at approximately 12:15 PM.

Approximately 1,100 gallons or more of diesel leaked onto the roadway. Travel lanes must be cleaned and inspected before all lanes can be reopened.

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