The pileups happened around 3:45 a.m. Sunday on both sides of I-75. When rescuers first arrived, they could only listen for screams and moans because the poor visibility made it difficult to find victims in wreckage that was strewn for nearly a mile.
At least a dozen cars and six tractor-trailers were involved, and some burst into flames.
Hours later, twisted, burned-out vehicles were scattered across the pavement, with smoke still rising from the wreckage.
Cars appeared to have smashed into the big rigs and, in one case, a motor home. Some cars were crushed beneath the heavier trucks.. One tractor-trailer was burned down to its skeleton, charred pages of books and magazines in its cargo area. And the tires of every vehicle had burned away, leaving only steel belts.
Before Steven Camps hit the fog bank, a friend who was driving ahead of him in a separate vehicle called to warn of the road conditions. The friend said he had just seen an accident and urged Camps to be careful as he approached the Paynes Prairie area, just south of Gainesville.
A short time later, Camps said, traffic stopped along the northbound lanes.
"You couldn't see anything. People were pulling off the road," he said.
Camps said he began talking about the road conditions to a man in the car stopped next to him when another vehicle hit that man's car.
The man's vehicle was crushed under a semi-truck stopped in front of them. Camps said his car was hit twice, but he and another friend were able to jump out. They took cover in the grass on the shoulder of the road.
All around them, cars and trucks were on fire, and they could hear explosions as the vehicles burned.
"It was happening on both sides of the road, so there was nowhere to go. It blew my mind," he said, explaining that the scene "looked like someone was picking up cars and throwing them."