If you have lived in Florida for any length of time at all and traveled to Orlando, then you have most likely driven I-4 to get there. If so, then you have driven over the "Dead Zone", that 1/4 mile stretch of road between Daytona and Tampa that is known as the "deadliest highway in America".
The History Channel Sept 30, 2018 segment describes the story well. There are also articles found on the internet, namely Roadtrippers.
Hauntings started in the early 1800's before asphalt paving even began. A family of immigrants, indentured servants were brought to the area. History channel said they were German, but Roadtrippers website say Swedish. It was these Swedes who did virtually all of the hard labor to settle the land and grow the area into becoming the world's leading producer of oranges. About ten years after the colony was established a horrifying fire broke out that destroyed much of the settlement. This was followed by a terrible epidemic of Yellow Fever and an historic freeze that ruined the area's citrus industry at the time.
Nov 1, 1877 four family members die of yellow fever. Their family priest, Father Swembergh, was in Tampa, also dying of yellow fever, and could not get back to administer their last rights. There was no absolution, no family gathering. They were buried on their property. This property was to become the I-4 corridor. After the Yellow Fever epidemic, all that remained of the pioneering site was an abandoned farmhouse and several family graves (of those who perished during the epidemic).
Did that halt construction of the I-4? Nope.
With no colonists left to tend the land, it was soon absorbed by Lake Monroe township:
By the early 1900s, a farmer by the name of Al Hawkins, his wife and family bought a large portion of the colony's land.
After he started to clear it he found the 4 rotting crosses representing the 4 graves. He honored them, put a small fence around them, and even flowers on the graves. He plowed around them, out of respect, when he farmed the land where they lay. “The Field of the Dead” as it became known, remained in its peaceful spot for years, until the farmer died in 1939.
The year was 1960. Some say it was the result of the road planners disturbing the 4 grave sites, and some say the sites were supposed to have been properly moved, but hurricane Donna was on the horizon....
Did hurricane Donna prevent the relocation of the graves? or was hurricane Donna the result of the graves being disturbed before they could be properly moved? Depends on who you ask....
According to the legend, the very day the road engineers began plowing over the graves, filling them with dirt in order to elevate the land for construction, one of Florida’s most deadly Hurricanes crossed the state. A name that may still strike fear into the minds of those who survived it, Hurricane Donna caused millions of dollars in damage to many areas of central Florida, and was responsible for many lives lost, not to mention the disruption of further road construction for several months afterwards. Some believe that when the surveyors disrupted the graves, a bad omen took place; the hurricane and the curse of I-4 had begun.
The exact location of the prior gravesites is the right lane on the east bound traffic lane, underneath I-4, just before the south end of the St. Johns River Bridge. [Charlie] Carlson [author of Weird Florida] claims that between 1995 and 1997, there were 44 crashes that injured 65 people on this stretch of I-4. Add those numbers together, and you get 109 — the exact age of the graves as of 1996.
Coincidence? While the verdict is still out whether the spirits of disturbed graves have caused several bad accidents on I-4, another rumor is that the spirit energy causes electronic equipment to malfunction and your cell phone to lose reception.
Other complaints include hearing voices crackling over the static of the radios, which are said to sound like a man’s voice calling out “Who’s there?” or “Why?” Sometimes, when truckers cross the bridge, they hear the same thing echoing over their CBs, and when a trucker answers back to what he thinks to be just another driver on the road, he’ll get no response. On occasion, some have heard what sounds like the giggling of two or more girls playing in the distance, as if from a playground, eerily echoing over the radio. Some have even claimed to have seen ghostly hitchhikers on the eastbound side of I-4, as well as dark shapes of people walking on the banks of the road near the river.
One driver, Carla Pizzutti, hears voices telling her to "drive off the bridge", giving her a strong sense of actually wanting to do it.
People report car tires blowing out and cars veering off the road for no apparent reason, sending them into the water below.
One driver, Karen Arbutine, saw a rather common apparition. A young woman wearing a white colored, flowing gown. "I almost hit her, and had to swerve my car to prevent it." When she stopped her car and got out, no one was there.
Another elderly couple saw a hitchhiker and decided to stop to give him a ride. Upon pulling over to pick him up, getting closer, they literally saw him just disappear.
I-4 stretches from Daytona to Tampa, about 100 miles.
There have been over 1700 accidents and well over 2000 deaths in that 1/4 stretch of I-4, right around the Lake Monroe bridge overpass, mile marker 103 (or thereabout). Given the fact that there are only 100s of deaths on the entire 100 mile road in total, something's going on in this stretch.
Locals say a new soul joins the ranks of the departed every 10 days on the I-4 dead zone stretch. The auto salvage dealership that houses thousands of the affected autos recommends the following when driving this stretch of road:
Drive in the day time, as 7 pm is when sightings of the ghosts occur most frequently
Turn off your cell phone
Keep your eyes on the road and hands on the steering wheel.
….or your car may end up in his salvage yard too.
I have driven this highway many, many times. I can honestly say, that I have never had any such experience, although now I may pay better attention to what my cell phone and radio are doing when in the area.
Share with me your experiences.....
(credit given to Roadtrippers and History Channel for facts & data)