A “strong smell” of chemicals seems to have played a role in a bizarre Florida Turnpike incident that left two motorists dead and sent three law enforcement officers to the hospital last month, but investigators remain unclear on what happened, The Orlando Sentinel is reporting.
At about 3:14 P.M. on June 2, Florida Highway Patrol officers were called to the scene of an accident along the Florida Turnpike in the Orlando area.
A white Porsche Cayenne had struck a guard rail, and the occupants of the vehicle – an adult woman and a young girl – did not appear to be breathing.
“She also has a child in here. We’re gonna have to break the window, they got it locked.”
Once the trooper was able to break the window, he noticed a strong chemical smell coming from inside the vehicle.
“There’s some kind of strong smell coming out of the vehicle. We’re not able — we’re not sure what’s coming out of there. There’s one small child and a female, but, uh, they’re not able to get in with the smell.”
A hazardous materials (Hazmat) team was called. They found an “unknown chemical substance” that, as of this writing, has yet to be identified, according to an Orlando Sentinel report from the time.
They also found two victims: 46-year-old Latifa Lincoln, and her three-year-old daughter, Maksmilla Lincoln. Both were dead.
Osceola, Florida: 46-year-old Mother Latifa Lincoln & 3-year-old Daughter Maksmilla Lincoln found dead in Porsche https://t.co/oPK9DG9pLF
— Queen P (@4Prina) June 8, 2016
As state troopers and the hazmat unit tried to manage the scene, things went from bad to worse. Troopers shut down the turnpike, and as a breeze kicked up, it blew the chemical smell onto the road, where some civilians were nearby.
“The wind is blowing at everyone. Going to see if we can move people. We are 250 feet back.”
Eventually troopers and Osceola County deputies got control of the situation, taking the bodies of the victims to the morgue, getting the car towed, and re-opening the highway. A state trooper and two Osceola County deputies were sent to an area hospital as a precaution; all three were treated and released.
So what do Florida authorities know about what killed Latifa Lincoln and her three-year-old daughter? Not much, as it turns out; or at least, they’re not saying much to the media.
As the Sentinel reported at the time, the “unknown substance” found in Lincoln’s SUV that day was deemed not to be drug-related, but what it was remains a mystery as of this writing.
In a follow-up WFTV (Orlando) report, reporter Shannon Butler said that unidentified sources had told her that the Lincolns died of carbon monoxide poisoning, and that their deaths were not suicides, but simply an unfortunate accident. Mother and daughter both had red skin, rash-like symptoms, and had vomited – all consistent with carbon monoxide poisoning.
However, field tests at the scene of the accident came back negative for carbon monoxide, although Butler’s source claims that the vehicle had been sitting for at least an hour before tests were conducted – enough time for the poisonous gas to dissipate enough to give a false negative.
There’s also the matter that carbon monoxide is odorless. Troopers at the scene of the accident reported a strong chemical smell – strong enough that they were forced to back away from Lincoln’s vehicle when the wind kicked up.
As of this writing, authorities have declined multiple requests from the media for information about Lincoln’s death, including police body camera footage and radio traffic reports. Meanwhile, autopsies for the two people who died along the Florida Turnpike that day have yet to be completed.
[Image via Shutterstock/AlexLMX]