Drivers identified in Interstate 75 crash that left one dead in Alafia River

GIBSONTON — Florida Highway Patrol has identified the drivers involved in the deadly Interstate 75 crash that closed portions of the interstate for nearly seven hours Wednesday and caused a chain reaction of massive delays.

James Dylan Proctor, 42, of Parrish died after his BMW was rear-ended by a semitruck and launched over the Alafia River Bridge just south of Gibsonton Dr.

The BMW was driving slowly just before 2:40 a.m. when the semi, driven by Wayne Damari Waldon, 30, of Lakeland, attempted to overtake it in the outside center lane and rear-ended it, launching the car into about 5 feet of water below the bridge.

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The tractor trailer, an ABC Fine Wine and Spirits truck on its way to a delivery in Tampa, overturned onto the interstate’s southbound lanes and spilled almost 30,000 gallons of alcoholic beverages.Waldon was taken to Tampa General Hospital and treated for minor injuries.

Troopers initially blamed low visibility due to fog, but later said it was clear for more than a mile when the accident occurred.

The collision created a miles-long traffic jam in an area that is rarely congested, Bay News 9 Traffic Reporter Chuck Henson said.

“Unless there’s something in the way, I never expect to see a traffic delay there,” Henson said.

Interstate 75 was closed in the southbound direction for nearly seven hours as crews worked to clear the wreckage and waited for the trailer’s contents to evaporate, David Buser, manager for Infrastructure Corporation of America, which dealt with the cleanup, said. Along with a small amount of spilled fuel, there was concern over the possibility of fire while the interstate was coated in alcohol.

Traffic was diverted to State Route 60.

All lanes of the interstate were reopened by 9 a.m., but at rush hour the traffic jam fed into normal morning backups on I-75 and the gridlock extended as far north as Fletcher Avenue. It also stalled traffic on surrounding roads including State Routes 301 and 41.

“It’s amazing to me how quickly the other two completely fill up when you’ve got that main one backed up,” Henson said.

Colleen Wright can be reached at cwright@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8913. You can follow her on Twitter @Colleen_Wright.