Interstate 4, the state Department of Transportation paved right over the
graves of four German immigrants who died in 1886.
The story goes that in 1886, a family of four German
immigrants died of yellow fever at a small settlement near present-day Sanford.
Their priest, who was visiting Tampa, couldn’t make it back in time to
administer the last rites because he, too, fell dead from the fever.
So the unblessed quartet were duly buried in a farmer’s
field, and there they apparently rested in peace — until around 1961, when I-4
was built through that area.
The state Department of Transportation paved right over
their graves, rolling a slab of pavement across their final resting place just
the way it rolls over thousands of acres of wetlands and forest and farmland
every chance it gets.
Now that spot where the dead were paved over — it’s on
the approach to a bridge over the St. Johns River — is known as the “I-4
Dead Zone.” It’s supposedly cursed by frequent wrecks and other signs of
bad luck. Those vindictive ghosts have declared war on the motorists who dare
cross their desecrated graves — although apparently not on the DOT that
actually did the desecrating.
The thing is, all of I-4 is like that, not just the
“Dead Zone.” That road is a death trap. Last year I-4 was declared
the most dangerous road in America, with 1.41 fatalities per mile. We could
blame this on poor land-use decisions, poor traffic design and control and lax
law enforcement — or we could blame the I-4 ghosts!