A Brantley County man was reported killed Wednesday in a crash the Floriday Highway Patrol said involved three log trucks, a flatbed tractor-trailer and three passenger vehicles on U.S. Highway 301 in Nassau County.
Lanes of U.S. 301 at Ford Road were closed for hours after the crash, which happened about 11:30 a.m.
Drivers were urged to avoid the area, which is also a construction zone.
Troopers said that at the time of the crash, the road was down to one lane for about half a mile, with a flag man on each end of the construction. According to FHP, the log truck that started the crash hit another log truck that was stopped and waiting to get through, killing that driver.
Grenville Beattie, who’s been driving trucks for 27 years, said he was the first one stopped by the flag man waiting to get through the construction zone. He said he heard a crash, and a red Dodge slammed into the tree next to him.
By the time he got out to help, he realized how bad the crash was.
“I went down there and tried to get the other driver of the truck with the trailer on top of it, but he was so close to death there wasn’t anything we could do,” Beattie said. “We couldn’t get to him, basically. That’s about all I can tell you.”
Three people were taken to UF Health Jacksonville, but FHP didn’t say their conditions.
Because the two-lane road is in a construction zone, troopers said drivers need to be even more aware than normal.
“Paying attention is most of the reason that most crashes occur,” Sgt. Charlotte Thompson said. “Just pay attention and be aware of the posted speed.”
At about 1 p.m., crews opened one lane of the road on the opposite side to help move traffic through. Beattie said the crash could have been much worse, and he is thankful his truck wasn’t hit, especially because the truck directly behind him was a fully loaded fuel transporter.
Still, he said it’s scary knowing someone doing the same job he does was killed.
“It’s something you don’t want to see,” Beattie said. “It’s so close to the holidays. His family is going have to grieve through the holidays and that’s not right thing to have to do.”
According to FHP, it appears the truck that started the crash belongs to Pritchett Trucking. The company would not comment, saying it’s conducting its own investigation. It also wouldn’t say the condition of the driver.