OCALA, Fla. - A 30-year-old Florida Highway Patrol trooper, a tow truck driver and a pedestrian, were killed Saturday in a crash on Interstate 75 in Ocala, authorities said.
Troopers said just after 2 p.m., FHP trooper Chelsea Richard was finishing up a two-car crash investigation on I-75 southbound at mile marker 341.
According to reports, the cars involved in the crash were off to the shoulder of the road, and as the trooper was talking with the tow truck driver, John Duggan, a pickup truck traveled onto the east shoulder on the southbound lanes of I-75.
Troopers said the pickup struck the FHP patrol car, Richard, Duggan, and a pedestrian, George Phillips, as they stood on the shoulder of the road.
Richard and Duggan died at the scene, according to authorities.
Phillips, 52,was transported in critical condition to Ocala Regional Hospital and died Sunday afternoon, troopers said.
A total of seven vehicles were involved in the crash, troopers said.
The northbound lanes of I-75 remained open, but some of the southbound lanes were blocked for nearly eight hours, creating heavy delays.
Black bands covered the shields of troopers as they addressed the media following the accident.
“This is a tragic day for the state of Florida and for the men and women of the Florida Highway Patrol,” Brierton saod. “We send our deepest condolences to the families of trooper Richard, Mr. John Duggan, Mr. George Phillips and everyone involved.”
Richard was a nine-year veteran of FHP.
She leaves behind a 4-year-old son, a father in New York, and a mother in Charlotte County.
“Our investigators need to sit down and go step by step to figure out exactly what happened out there,” said Sgt. Tracy Hisler-Pace. “This has been a very trying day. There’s a lot we need to look into. Right now we are focusing on the victim and their families.”
Funeral arrangements for Richard are in progress.
She is thr 45th FHP troopers to be killed in the line of duty.
Troopers said they are looking into whether the driver of the pickup truck was impaired at the time of the crash.
No charges have been filed and officers said the investigationg could take several months.