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Mad rush: Holiday traffic begins with dozens of crashes, highway suicide

With a toppled cement truck that crushed a car and a woman who jumped from an expressway overpass and landed in the path of a pickup, the holiday weekend traffic crunch in South Florida got off to a rough start.

With drivers eager to rush from work and start their weekend of leisure, traffic was backed up for miles on several area expressways.

Here were the big problems:

•  A stretch of Interstate 95 in Miami was backed up for more than five miles at mid-day when a woman jumped from a northbound overpass near Northwest 14th Street. She crawled through a hole in a fence and landed in the southbound lanes. She was struck by a pickup truck and died on the highway. The southbound stretch was shut down and traffic was backed up to Northwest 62nd Street. Northbound traffic was moving smoothly.

•  A rollover on Interstate 595 west of Florida’s Turnpike in Broward shut down all eastbound lanes around 5 p.m., the height of the rush hour.

•  A cement truck tipped over on State Road 836 at the ramp to Northwest 107th Avenue and landed on top of a car. Traffic backed up for miles.

And all of the problems came before the weekend got started.

Even with the dozens of crashes reported on Friday, troopers with the Florida Highway Patrol stand ready to help keep order on the roads.

“We’ll have all available troopers out working and looking for speeders, seatbelt violators, drunk drivers and aggressive drivers,” said FHP Sgt. Mark Wysocky of the Broward troop.

There are no predictions on how many accidents or fatalities are expected this weekend, but last year there were about 27 traffic fatalities statewide during Memorial Day weekend.