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Sand, diesel fuel from crash close U.S. 98 for 5 hours

Drivers were diverted while crews cleaned up after the three-vehicle accident.

Published March 22, 2005

Traffic on U.S. 98 in northern Hernando County was diverted for five hours Monday morning after a sand truck skidded on diesel fuel and overturned in a three-vehicle wreck.

The Florida Highway Patrol said the a crash occurred after a Dodge pickup driven by a Homosassa man traveled into the intersection of U.S. 98 and Citrus Way, north of Brooksville, and struck a semitrailer truck, rupturing the vehicle's gas tank. As the fuel spilled, the sand truck, which was traveling several truck lengths behind the semi, careened into the slippery pool and overturned, patrol spokesman Trooper Larry Coggins said.

The patrol faulted the pickup's driver, Thomas Bassett, 49, who it said did not stop at a stop sign. Bassett was cited for violating the right of way, driving with a suspended license and having no insurance.

The crash occurred about 6:45 a.m. as Bassett traveled south on Citrus Way. According to an investigation, Bassett approached U.S. 98 but didn't stop. As his pickup entered oncoming traffic, it struck the left side of the semi driven by James Ware, 37, of Homosassa.

Kenneth Lopp, 25, of Lecanto, who was traveling east on U.S. 98 behind Ware, hit his brakes to avoid the crash but skidded on the fuel. The truck overturned, spilling its load of sand.

Lopp, who was not wearing his seat belt, was taken by helicopter to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa. A hospital spokeswoman said Lopp was treated for minor injuries and released from the emergency room.

The patrol did not report any other injuries in the crash.

Crews finished cleaning the fuel and sand from the two-lane highway about 12:40 p.m.

[Last modified March 22, 2005, 01:21:16]

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