Semi-truck driver strikes historic Florida Desert Inn and Restaurant

A semi-truck driver crashed into the Desert Inn and Restaurant in Yeehaw Junction, Fla., on Sunday. Photo courtesy Florida Highway Patrol

Dec. 22 (UPI) — A tractor trailer crashed into a historic hotel site in Florida on Sunday morning, officials said.

Florida Highway Patrol said the semi-truck transporting orange juice struck the Desert Inn and Restaurant in Yeehaw Junction at about 3:15 a.m.

No one was in the building at the time of the crash, but the driver sustained minor injuries in the collision.

FHP troopers said part of the building collapsed after a tow truck arrived at the scene to haul the semi-truck away.

The Desert Inn served as a barroom and brothel for cowboys and lumber workers dating back as far as 1889.

The site was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1994 and closed in June 2018.

The driver, 50-year-old Mareo Cawley, told Florida news station WPTV that it was dark at the time of the crash and he did not realize he had left the road.

“When I got to that corner I couldn’t see the ground, I couldn’t see the lines or anything. It was too dark. I normally never travel at night but I wanted to get close to Jacksonville and I was trying to put myself into a good position,” he said.

An investigation into the crash is ongoing and Cawley may face charges.


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