A Florida Highway Patrol officer who reopened a smoke- and fog-covered portion of Interstate 75 in January did not have proper training and was not aware of procedures governing such an incident, according to an investigators' report issued Thursday.
A total of 11 people, , were killed in a series of crashes on the interstate caused by the smoke and fog.
But investigators from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement did not find any criminal violations.
According to their report, Highway Patrol Lt. John Gourley decided to reopen the stretch of I-75 near Gainesville in the early hours of Jan. 29 despite protests from Highway Patrol Sgt. Bruce Simmons.
The highway had been closed because of a wildfire at a nearby state park, with the smoke mixing with fog to reduce visibility.
More than a dozen cars, several semitrailer trucks and other vehicles crashed in various pileups, some of them catching fire.
Jose Carmo, the pastor of the Ingreja Internacional de Restauracao in East Marietta, was killed, along with his wife Adriana, and a daughter, Leticia, a student.
Another daughter, Lidiane, also a Sprayberry student, survived, but was seriously injured. She was hospitalized in Florida until . Also perishing in the crashes were Jose Carmo's brother Edsom and Edsom's girlfriend, Roselia DeSilva.
Other survivors were church members Weberson Barbosa, 36, of Marietta and Joilson Lima, 36, of Kennesaw. They and the Carmo family were returning to Cobb from a religious conference in Orlando when the accidents took place.
A at Sprayberry a week later, and family members, church friends and others the Cobb Brazilian community worked to keep her in the country. The Carmo family was living in the United States on expired visas.
The FDLE investigation reviewed tapes of communications involving law enforcement officials, including Simmons' heated protest to a deputy sheriff of Gourley's decision to reopen the interstate:
"I tried to tell them to leave that 'Sum buck closed and they wouldn't listen to me. I said it will roll in faster than you can shut it down. This crap wouldn't have happened if he'd have listened."
The reports recommendations include a number of protocol changes and other guidelines to ensure better safety.
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