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Fla. officials defend decision to reopen highway minutes before accident that killed 10 people
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) ' The Florida Highway Patrol says conditions were clear when they decided to reopen the interstate highway where 10 people were killed in two deadly pileups amid heavy smoke and fog.
Lt. Patrick Riordan said Monday in a news conference that visibility quickly deteriorated after they reopened the highway early Sunday morning. The crashes started shortly after.
About midnight, the highway patrol closed Interstate 75 near Gainesville because of low visibility but reopened it about 3:30 a.m. Pileups began about 15 minutes later, with survivors describing smoke and fog so thick they couldn't see.
Riordan says troopers did their "due diligence" before a sergeant and lieutenant decided to reopen the road. He says drivers have to be alert and be prepared to make good judgments.