First lawsuit in 11-death I-75 crash targets FHP, FDOT
Two state agencies face a negligence lawsuit over a series of crashes that claimed nearly a dozen lives on Interstate 75 and resulted in a report that found inadequate training and procedural problems.

Gainesville attorney Christopher Chestnut said Friday he has filed a notice of his intent to sue Florida's Highway Patrol and Department of Transportation on behalf of 22-year-old Steven Camps.

Camps was injured and 11 people were killed in the fiery wreckage on I-75 in the early hours of Jan. 29, a result of fog and smoke from a nearby wildfire that limited visibility near Gainesville.

Although Camps' injuries were listed as minor, Chestnut said the incident had a profound impact.

"Steven's suffered a lot of psychological issues," Chestnut said. He said Camps has not yet been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrome but has experienced it, "or something very similar."

"There's just certain things that people aren't meant to see," said Chestnut, who added that his client is haunted by the carnage. "He described it as just like the end of the world."

A Florida Department of Law Enforcement review released Thursday found fault with the Highway Patrol. Troopers had closed the roadway but then reopened it.

Less than an hour later, the first in a series of six crashes occurred. More than a dozen vehicles were involved, including a Toyota Camry carrying Camps.

The review found the lieutenant who ordered the road reopened was not trained on policy for reopening roads.

"We're not pointing the finger at any one person," Chestnut said, adding he believes those involved were, as the reviewconcluded, not properly trained.

Chestnut said he hopes the suit will lead to policy changes.

Representatives of the FHP and FDOT could not be reached for comment Friday night.