IMMOKALEE, Fla. – Like many drivers, emergency personnel are also fed up with horrible crashes on State Road 82; five people died on the highway over the Labor Day weekend.
There are constant reminders scattered all along a 23-mile stretch of SR-82, memorials and flowers of loved ones who lost their lives between Lee County and Immokalee.
“It does begin to take a toll on you,” Chief Paul Anderson Jr. with the Immokalee Fire Control District said. “You can only have to go out there and cut a dead family out of a car so many times before it starts impacting you emotionally and physically.”
Chief Anderson says his crew responds to a crash on SR-82 just about everyday, and only ten miles of that highway is in their jurisdiction.
“I’ve seen more devastating crashes on that small stretch of road than probably any stretch of road in my 34 year career,” Chief Anderson said.
Chief Anderson and Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) Lt. Greg Bueno were at the scene of now the newest memorial–a head-on collision that claimed three lives, including a five-year-old girl.
“It’s horrible enough that when we see an adult, a human being, lose their life. Then a child on top of that, it’s tough. It carries with us as well,” Lt. Bueno said.
Both drivers and first responders want to see a change. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) wants to add more lanes to the highway and a median, but construction could be years away.
Lt. Bueno and Chief Anderson say until the changes are made, it’s up to drivers to make a change in their habits.
“Most of the significant crashes we see are the result of someone trying to pass on that road,” Chief Anderson said.
“It comes back to responsible driving, being accountable for your actions, having good practices while you drive,” Lt. Bueno said.