Traffic jam borne of gun violence frays delayed motorists’ nerves

Updated Feb 08, 2018
Police investigate a series of crashes and the fatal shooting of a murder suspect by a PBSO deputy on northbound I-95 north of Lantana Road Wednesday morning, February 7, 2018. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

Wednesday’s traffic melee, which many said was the worst they had ever experienced, left motorists disoriented and angry – and trying to comprehend how their normal daily driving was disrupted by gun violence.

The mother of all traffic jams was borne of the shooting of a homicide suspect by a Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputy in the northbound lane of Interstate 95 near Lantana. A suspect in two shootings, he left a pile of wreckage as he sped down the highway in the morning, causing no less than three crashes before authorities caught up with him.

One of the shooting victims, a woman in his passenger seat, died at the scene.

And that wasn’t the only violence affecting I-95 on Wednesday. Authorities closed southbound lanes after Edvin Milkevic, 29, was discovered shot in his car near Spanish River Boulevard. Police said they believe he might have been shot while driving.

But it was the Lantana shooting that caused what many motorists said was the worst traffic they’d ever encountered, not just in Palm Beach County — but anywhere.

AC repairman Jim Fritz passed by the Boca Raton shooting scene in the morning only to get caught later on in the Lantana quagmire. He was trying to get to a job on 45th Street but was stuck for two hours between Linton and Gateway boulevards.

The Florida Highway Patrol closed the freeway for a 4-mile stretch from Gateway Boulevard in Boynton Beach to 6th Avenue South in Lake Worth. The result was a backup to Boca Raton and nerve-frying experience as all lanes of traffic were merged into one at Gateway.

Judy Lubao, 82, was trying to get from Broward County to Vero Beach to babysit her grandchild when she finally was routed off. “I’ve driven around the Baltimore area and this is the absolute worst,” she said.

Many motorists were confused as they got off at Gateway, not knowing east from west. “Where’s Military?” or “Where’s Congress?” were frequent queries.

Miranda Fuller was aiming for Orlando to catch a flight when she had had enough, saying, “I’m going to go get a beer. There’s a brewery around the corner. I don’t want to sit in my car anymore.”

Alejandro Cardona, a resort manager in Riviera Beach with Marriott, was stuck for an hour but more importantly to him, he was missing his 1 p.m. meeting. He said tempers flared everywhere.

“I saw two guys arguing out of their windows, and one of them was about to get out of the car.”

What were they arguing about? Cardona shrugged and said, “Traffic.”

Sonia Torres from Buenos Aires, Argentina, pulled off I-95 at Lantana Road about noon after being stopped cold for 30 minutes. She said she was completely lost and trying to make a 5:30 p.m. flight in Miami to head back to Argentina. She hoped to get directions.

She was with a friend and six teenagers and was coming from Orlando where they’d celebrated one of the girls’ birthdays.

When she was told what happened, she said, “It happens in our country. There is also violence.”

Scott Goss of Bob’s Barricades was on the scene setting up barricades at Gateway. “We’re working hard.” About 1 p.m, I-95 narrowed to one lane at that exit.

Stuck at the light, the motorists told stories.

Talk about a moving day.

Linda Amiano, was going back and forth from Boca to north county with her mixed German Shepherd named Taz and her daughter, Nicole. She got on at Boynton Beach Boulevard about 12:30 and got stuck for an hour before she exited at Gateway. She said she’d seen a lot of people honking, waving their arms out the window and screaming at each other.

“I think we are seeing a lot of people angry as they’re trying to get into that one lane. I’m just trying to go with the flow,” she said.

Ron Tilbor stuck for an hour, got on at Boynton. He said he’s concerned with the violence he’s heard about, that there were three shootings that affected I-95. “I think it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better. People are so angry,” he said.