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I-75 accident kills driver, snarls traffic


© St. Petersburg Times,
published August 7, 2001

WESLEY CHAPEL -- A three-car wreck on Interstate 75 early Monday killed a Tampa man and wreaked havoc on morning traffic for more than three hours.

Florida Highway Patrol troopers said Irvin Lee Jolliff, 62, of 2102 W Cherry St., was driving north about 6:50 a.m. in his blue 1990 Lincoln car when he went off the road for unknown reasons.

Jolliff plowed through two construction barricades, crossed the grass median and emerged in the southbound lanes of I-75 near the intersection of I-275.

James Steven Roddy, 47, was in his 1997 Ford pickup truck headed south. So was Timothy Keith Baitinger, 36, of Wesley Chapel who was driving his 1978 Ford pickup truck. Both trucks rammed the right side of Jolliff's car.

Jolliff was pronounced dead at the scene.

Roddy was taken by helicopter to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa, where he remained in fair condition Monday night.

Baitinger was taken by ambulance to University Community Hospital in Tampa. Hospital officials did not release his condition Monday, though his injuries were not thought to be life-threatening.

Both Roddy and Baitinger were wearing their seat belts when the crash happened, FHP troopers said. Jolliff was not.

The wreck, which happened at the start of rush hour, created a nightmare for morning commuters heading south.

It shut down both southbound lanes of I-75 while crews cleared the highway of the wreckage, and afterwards traffic moved at a snail's pace.

Three hours later, at 10 a.m., traffic still was backed up almost 9 miles to near the intersection of State Road 52.

FHP reports stated it was unknown whether alcohol played a role in the accident. Troopers were continuing their investigation later Monday.

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