Last three victims identified from Florida pileups

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 03, 2012 5:13 PM
Last three victims identified from Florida pileups

By Barbara Liston

ORLANDO, Fla (Reuters) - A medical examiner has positively identified the final unknown victims of the grisly Florida highway pileups that claimed 11 lives last weekend, authorities said Friday.

The three victims were traveling in a Dodge pickup truck that slammed into the back of a stopped semi-trailer truck on the smoke and fog-filled Interstate 75 south of Gainesville.

Florida Highway Patrol Sergeant Kim Montes said the pickup was consumed by fire and its license tag melted, hindering the identification of the bodies inside. The truck's metal was so crushed that the body of one occupant wasn't discovered until three days after the devastating crashes.

Authorities "had a hard time locating any identification that would give them information about their names," Montes told Reuters.

The medical examiner identified the victims as Michael James Hughes, 39, Lori Lynne Brock-Hughes, 46, and Sabryna Dawn Louise Hughes-Gilley, 17, all of Pensacola, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

An additional 20 people were admitted with injuries to Shands Hospital in Gainesville after the pileups on Sunday, according to the hospital's re-count of the accident victims. Three remained hospitalized as of Friday afternoon.

Florida Governor Rick Scott has ordered a formal investigation of the crashes. They began about 30 minutes after a 14-mile stretch of Interstate 75 was reopened by the Florida Highway Patrol after a combination of fog and smoke from a suspicious marsh fire enveloped the highway and interfered with visibility.

Montes said charges in the pileups are pending following a full homicide investigation, which could take up to 90 days.

(Editing by Colleen Jenkins)