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2 killed in crash on Sawgrass Expressway involving semi-truck

Truck carrying produce erupted into flames

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A semi-truck erupted in flames and two people were killed after a crash on the Sawgrass Expressway just north of Sunrise Boulevard on Thursday morning, the Florida Highway Patrol reported.

Troopers said a Mitsubishi Mirage driven by Niculae Sandulescu, 84, was traveling north on the Sawgrass Expressway at a slow rate of speed.

The 50-year-old driver of the semi-truck, identified by troopers as Nelson Castro, attempted to avoid the Mitsubishi, but struck the rear of the car with the left-front of the semi-truck, troopers said.

The Mitsubishi rotated to the left and the semi-truck veered to the right, causing the semi-truck to overturn. Troopers said the loaded trailer landed on top of the Mitsubishi and slid against the guardrail.

Sky 10 was above the scene about 10:40 a.m. Thursday as the semi, operated by On & Go Transportation in Hialeah, was on its side with flames coming out its back in the northbound lanes, and coconuts and watermelons spilling out.

All northbound lanes were blocked for hours as firefighters worked to put out the flames.

Sunrise Fire-Rescue Division Chief Jim Dixon told Local 10 News that the 18-wheel truck overturned on top of the Mitsubishi.

"At some point the tractor-trailer struck the rear of the car, and as the tractor-trailer hit it, so it was veering to the right and the trailer overturned onto the car," FHP Sgt. Mark Wysocky said. "As it was sliding, the vehicle caught fire and we have two confirmed fatalities inside the car."

The Mitsubishi underneath was so severely damaged and burned that authorities couldn't determine the make or model of the vehicle at first. The car was nearly unrecognizable as it was covered with a tarp, loaded onto a flatbed and taken to the medical examiner's office with the bodies still inside.

The victims were identified as Niculae Sandulescu and Paraschiva Sandulescu, 79, of Sunrise.

Castro was seen being treated by paramedics on the side of the highway. He was taken by ambulance to Broward General Hospital with serious injuries.

Troopers said the impact of the crash and the flames were so intense that road crews were expected to return to the scene Thursday night to re-mill and re-pave a portion of the highway where the crash occurred. They said the crash left the asphalt severely damaged and brittle.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

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