A baby is being treated at a hospital after two crashes involving 17 vehicles shut down State Road 520 Thursday morning in Orange County, the Florida Highway Patrol said.
The roadway has since reopened.
Heavy fog and smoke from a brush fire in the area appear to have affected visibility and might have been factors in the crash, according to Orange County deputies, who assisted FHP and Brevard County deputies.
The baby was taken to Arnold Palmer Hospital as a trauma alert after the mother’s vehicle was rear-ended, FHP said. The baby’s condition is unknown.
The first crash involved two vehicles. The woman and her baby were driving east in the right lane when she slowed down due to low visibility, troopers said.
The woman was then rear-ended by another vehicle, troopers said.
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The other chain-reaction crash involved 15 vehicles at a time when drivers described visibility as very poor or near zero, troopers said.
Authorities said seven other people were taken to the hospital and are expected to be OK.
Troopers said there were no fatalities.
FHP said the fog was unexpected.
Joe Mollo lives in Brevard County and often drives on SR 520. It's an area known to experience fog.
"It's obvious that they need to slow down," Mollo said. "You always have somebody that's going past you like they're on the way to a house fire or something."
Florida Forest Service officials said they authorized a prescribed burn at the Tosohatchee Wildlife Management on Wednesday and did not notify law enforcement agencies.
Forest service officials said they did not notify law enforcement because they did not anticipate that the smoke would impact traffic or nearby homes.
"When we know there's any burning going on, we monitor the area a little more closely," Lt. Channing Taylor of the Florida Highway Patrol said.
Officers from agricultural law enforcement are investigating.
Cox Media Group