Florida Highway Patrol is looking into a tip that recently came into the FHP communications center that could lead troopers to the truck driver who lost pieces of metal on Interstate 95 northbound Monday morning, causing damage to 30 or more cars.
"We’re looking into the possibility of a company name," FHP Public Information Officer Lt. Alvaro Feola said.
Feola provided that update Wednesday morning during an interview with WPTV about the investigation. He said several troopers are working on finding the driver.
FHP actually got a call Monday morning in the midst of the situation from a woman saying she saw a tractor trailer on the side of the road near exit 69.
"I see the guy on the back of the truck trying to fold some of these metal pieces back on," the 911 caller said. "I think he’s caused a lot of damage, but the truck is right before exit 69, before the airport going north.”
Feola wasn't aware of this particular 911 call Wednesday morning. He also wasn't sure if troopers followed up on it. He said they had a specific focus at the time.
"Our main concern is obviously the people stranded on the side of the road," he said. "We want to make sure that these people are ok, they didn’t suffer any injuries.”
However, those drivers now want to know who to hold accountable for thousands of dollars in damage to their cars.
"I’m probably looking at close to $1,200 to $1,300 total," Lauren Holy said.
"Six hundred dollars later, two new tires and a tow ride," Nicole Duprey said.
FDOT has traffic cameras that monitor I-95 in real time, but Feola doesn’t think FHP utilized them to try to track down the truck.
"Probably not," he said. "The main concern in the beginning is get the troopers to the scene and take care of the people that suffered the flat tires.”
Drivers whose cars were damaged also wanted to know why they didn’t see troopers on scene for over a half an hour after they got flat tires. 911 callers that morning had the same question.
"My daughter has called police. It’s wet. It’s raining. It’s dangerous. Cars are going past us and not one police officer has come by and it’s been 15 minutes," one man told the 911 operator. "This is ridiculous."
"We called already," a woman told 911. "We’re waiting on some type of security for the road because we’ve got about 10 cars whose tires were cut by metal that was on the road and the metal is still flying around and we’re just trying to get ourselves out of this situation."
While Feola didn’t have troopers' exact response times, he believes it was quick.
“We were there within a decent time," he said.
Feola said FHP tries to respond to calls for service within 20 minutes.
"Depending on the situation, depending on how many wrecks or how many calls for service we are working, obviously we prioritize the kind of call," Feola said. "We try to be there within 20 minutes. We are trying to be there as quick as possible, depending on the amount of troopers we have working the road on that day and the amount of service calls."
FHP continues to ask for tips from anyone who thinks they saw the truck or anything suspicious Monday morning.
“I think our people did as much possible, a great job trying to get everyone and getting the metal debris from the roadway so nobody else suffered flat tires or damage to their vehicles," Feola said.