Crews free passengers trapped in Charlotte County car wreck

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PUNTA GORDA, Fla. – A two-car crash sent seven people to the hospital, some with life-threatening injuries, after crews worked to free passengers from a badly wrecked vehicle at Jones Loop Road and Knights Drive on Monday before 8 a.m.

A driver in a red pickup truck, Chelsea Jeffries, 23 of Punta Gorda, ran a red light at the intersection as a work vehicle with six passengers was trying to make a left turn, according to a witness who spoke with the Florida Highway Patrol. Jeffries’ truck drove nearly head-on into the work truck, which began spinning at the intersection, troopers said.

Special crews had to remove people from the work vehicle, according to Dee Hawkins-Garland of Charlotte County Fire & EMS. One patient, Elena Rosales, 31, of Fort Myers, was flown to the Sarasota Memorial Hospital as a trauma alert, Hawkins-Garland said. A second trauma alert patient, Jose Mejia, 29, of Fort Myers, was rushed to Lee Memorial Hospital because a second helicopter couldn’t make it to the scene in enough time, according to Charlotte County Fire & EMS.

Jeffries and four other people were taken to Bayfront Health Punta Gorda with minor injuries: Luis Diaz Soto, 37, of Fort Myers, who was the driver of the work vehicle; Pedro Hernandez, 31, of Fort Myers; Juan Pastor, 21, of Fort Myers; and Felipe Chic, 39 of Fort Myers.

Jones Loop Road was closed between Interstate-75 and Taylor Road. Jeffries is facing charges for failing to stop at a traffic signal.

Florida Highway Patrol and the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office are investigating the crash.

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