The state is conducting a comprehensive review of every inch of its roads after 10 investigations submitted the database we compiled to the Florida Department of Transportation.
”… the FDOT is conducting an inspection of all installed guardrails on state roads throughout Florida.”
Charles “Charlie” Pike, who now lives in Belvedere, Illinois, has never spoken to any reporter before but told 10 Investigates, “It’s time to tell my story.”
His story began on October 29, 2010 on State Route 33 in Groveland, Florida. He was a passenger in a pickup truck.
“I remember how we were driving…we swerved and missed a Labrador or some big dog. We swerved like this – we hit the mud and the back of the tire – and the truck skidded a bit,” Pike described.
“As far as I know, the fence should break like an accordion, some kind of buffer… this thing went through the truck like a harpoon,” Pike said.
The guardrail runs through the truck to the passenger side, where Pike is. He said he didn’t think the kick was that hard until he started moving his leg through the fence.
Rescuers had to risk their lives trying to get Pike out of the truck. He was airlifted to Orlando Regional Medical Center.
“I woke up and found that I had no left leg,” Pike said. “I thought: “Mom, did I lose my leg?” And she said, “Yes. “…I just…the water affected me. I started crying. I don’t think I was hurt.”
Pike said he spent about a week in the hospital before he was released. He went through intensive care to learn how to walk again. He was fitted with a prosthesis below the knee.
“Right now, I’d say around grade 4 is normal,” Pike said, referring to pain starting at grade 10. “On a bad day when it’s cold… Level 27.”
“I’m angry because if there were no fences, everything would be fine,” Pike said. “I feel cheated and very angry about this whole situation.”
After the accident, Parker filed a lawsuit against the Florida Department of Transportation. The lawsuit alleges that the truck crashed into improperly installed Florida inmate guardrails and that the state was negligent in its “failure to maintain, operate, repair, and maintain” State Highway 33 in a safe condition.
”If you’re going to release something to help people, you have to make sure it’s built the right way to help people,” Pike said.
But 10 Investigates, along with safety advocates, found dozens of misplaced fencing across the state 10 years after Pike’s crash.
Investigative Digest: Over the past four months, 10 Tampa Bay reporter Jennifer Titus, producer Libby Hendren, and cameraman Carter Schumacher have traveled all over Florida and even visited Illinois, finding Improperly installed guardrails on state roads. If the guardrail is installed incorrectly, it will not work as it was tested, making some guardrails “monsters”. Our team has found them from Key West to Orlando and from Sarasota to Tallahassee. The Florida Department of Transportation is now conducting a comprehensive inspection of every inch of the guardrail.
We’ve compiled a database of misplaced guardrails in Miami, Interstate 4, I-75, and Plant City – just a few feet from the Florida Department of Transportation headquarters in Tallahassee.
“Thunder struck the railroad where it shouldn’t be. What if they can’t protect themselves or Governor DeSantis? That has to change – it has to come from their culture,” said Steve Allen, who advocates for safer roads,” Merce said.
Our team worked with Eimers to create a database of misplaced fences. We randomly place fences throughout the state and add them to our list.
“Running into the end of the fence, hitting the fence, can be a very violent act. The results can be quite impressive and ugly. It’s easy to overlook the fact that one bolt – one in the wrong place – can kill you. The upside down part of it will kill you,” Ames said.
Steve is an ER doctor, not an engineer. He never went to school to learn fencing. But Ames’ life was forever changed by the fence.
“It was reported that I knew that my daughter was in critical condition. I asked, “Will there be any transportation,” and they said, “No,” Ames said. “Back then, I didn’t need the police knocking on my door. I knew my daughter was dead.
“She passed out of our lives on [October] 31 and we never saw her again,” Ames said. “There’s a railing over her head…we didn’t even see her last time, which leads me down a rabbit hole that I haven’t climbed out of yet.”
We contacted Eimers in December, and within a few weeks of working with him, our database found 72 misplaced fences.
“I saw this tiny, tiny percentage. We are probably talking about hundreds of fences that could have been installed incorrectly,” Ames said.
Christie and Mike DeFilippo’s son, Hunter Burns, died after hitting an improperly installed guardrail.
The couple now live in Louisiana but often return to the site where their 22-year-old son was killed.
Three years have passed since the crash, but people’s emotions are still strong, especially when they see a truck door with a rusty iron grate, located just a few feet from the crash site.
According to them, the truck’s rusty door was part of the truck that Hunter was driving on the morning of March 1, 2020.
Christy chimed in: “Hunter was the most wonderful guy. He lit up the room the minute he entered. He was the brightest person. So many people loved him.”
According to them, the accident happened early Sunday morning. Christie recalls that when they heard a knock on the door, it was 6:46 am on the clock.
“I jumped out of bed and there were two Florida Highway Patrol officers standing there. They told us Hunter had an accident and he didn’t make it,” Christie said.
According to the accident report, Hunter’s truck collided with the end of the guardrail. The impact caused the truck to spin counter-clockwise before overturning and crashing into a massive overhead traffic sign.
“This is one of the most shocking tricks I have ever found related to a fatal car accident. They must find out how it happened and it will never happen again. We had a 22-year-old guy who crashed into a road sign and burned out. “Yes. I’m angry and I think people in Florida should be angry too,” Ames said.
We learn that the fence that Burns crashes into is not only incorrectly installed, but also the Frankenstein.
“Frankenstein goes back to Frankenstein the monster. It’s when you take parts from different systems and mix them together,” Eimers said.
”At the time of the accident, the ET-Plus guardrail was not up to design specifications due to improper installation. The guardrail could not pass through the extrusion head because the terminal used a cable attachment system that bolted to the guardrail rather than self-aligning. Hook release Feeds, flattens and slips off the shock absorber. So when the guard is hit by a Ford truck, the end and guard pass through the passenger side front fender, hood and floor of the Ford truck into its passenger compartment.”
The database we created with Eimers includes not only incorrectly installed fences, but also these Frankensteins.
“I have never seen you have to work very hard to install the wrong product. It’s much easier to just do it right,” Ames said, referring to Burns’ crash. I don’t know how you messed it up like that. Let there be no parts in it, insert parts without parts that belong to this system. I hope the FDOT investigates this accident further. They need to find out what’s going on here. “
We sent the database to Professor Kevin Shrum of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Civil engineers agree that there is a problem.
“For the most part, I was able to confirm what he said and found many other things to be wrong as well,” Schrum said. “The fact that there are a lot of bugs that are fairly constant and that the same bugs are worrying.”
“You have contractors installing guardrails and that’s the main source of guardrail installation across the country, but when installers don’t know how the surfacing is supposed to work, in many cases they just let the setup run,” Schrum said. . “They cut holes where they think they should be, or punch holes where they think they should be, and if they don’t understand the functionality of the terminal, they won’t understand why it’s bad or why it’s wrong.” does not work.
We found this tutorial video on the agency’s YouTube page, where Derwood Sheppard, State Highway Design Engineer, talks about the importance of proper guardrail installation.
“It’s very important to install these components the way crash tests are done and the installation instructions tell you to do it according to what the manufacturer gave you. Because if you don’t, you know that stiffening up the system can lead to the results you see on the screen, the guards bending and not extruding properly, or creating a cabin penetration hazard,” Sheppard says in a YouTube tutorial video. .
DeFilippos still can’t figure out how this fence got on the road.
“My human mind does not understand how logical this is. I don’t understand how people can die from these things and they still haven’t been properly installed by unqualified people so I guess that’s my problem. Christy said. “You take someone else’s life into your own hands because you didn’t do it right the first time.”
Not only do they test every inch of guardrails on Florida’s statewide highways, “the department reiterates the safety and importance of our policies and procedures for personnel and contractors responsible for installing and inspecting guardrails and attenuators. Our way. ”
“The Florida Department of Transportation’s (FDOT) top priority is safety, and the FDOT takes your concerns very seriously. The 2020 incident involving Mr Burns you mentioned was a heartbreaking loss of life and the FDOT is reaching out to his family.
“For your information, FDOT has installed approximately 4,700 miles of barriers and 2,655 shock absorbers on our state roads. The department has policies and practices for all equipment used in our facilities, including guards and silencers. Installation of fences and service repairs. using components designed and selected specifically for each location, use, and compatibility. All products used in Department facilities must be made by Department-approved manufacturers, as this helps ensure component compatibility. Also, check every two guard positions every year or immediately after damage.
“The department is also working hard to implement the latest crash test industry standards in a timely manner. FDOT policy requires that all existing guardrail installations meet the crash test standards of NCHRP Report 350 (Recommended Procedures for Assessing Road Safety Performance). Additionally, in 2014, the FDOT developed an implementation plan by adopting the AASHTO Equipment Safety Assessment Manual (MASH), the current crash test standard. The department updated its guard standards and approved product list to require all newly installed or completely replaced equipment to comply MASH requirements. In addition, in 2019, the Department ordered the replacement of all X-lite guards statewide in 2009. As a result, all X-lite guards have been removed from our statewide facilities.
Post time: Mar-25-2023