A head-on crash between a passenger van and a pickup truck early Friday on SR-82 in Collier County sent 13 people to the hospital.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, a van carrying 15 passengers collided with a pickup on SR-82, east of Corkscrew Road in Collier County, at about 6:40 a.m. The force of the collision caused the van to overturn.
Troopers said the pickup driver, a 20-year-old Fort Myers man, was trying to pass a slower vehicle and “used poor judgment” in passing.
Thirteen people were transported to three different hospitals, with four critically or seriously injured – the van’s 33-year-old female driver and three passengers. The FHP said the van’s driver was wearing a seat belt but they aren’t yet sure if any passengers were. Rescuers had to cut apart the van to get to everyone.
Lee Memorial Hospital’s Trauma Center also sent out a call for blood donations Friday morning as a result of the crash.
For more information on donating, visit leehealth.org or call (239)343-2333 for the location of the Lee Health Blood Center nearest you.
Crashes along SR-82, a two-lane road that stretches from Lee County into Collier County, aren’t uncommon. Signs and memorials of those who died on the road can be found along the route.
“I get scared sometimes because it’s a dangerous road, I have to do it every day. My dad gets scared too … I would like to find a job closer to home so I don’t have to take this road so much,” said Sierrah Lopez of Lehigh Acres.
“There’s always deadly crashes and crashes all the time here on 82,” said Nicole Saars of Lee County.
The speed limit on SR-82 is 60 mph on some stretches, and it’s OK to pass, exactly what the pickup driver was trying to do Friday morning.
“Right now, there’s really nowhere for us to swerve out of the way to avoid a crash,” Saars said.
The crashes keep coming.
“I mostly see one or two crashes like every two or three days, so it’s normal for us,” said Luis Maisonet.
“A lot of people just take chances they shouldn’t,” said John Lepy of Lehigh Acres.
There are plans in place to make SR-82 safer. The Florida Department of Transportation plans to install a light at SR-82 and Corkscrew Rd., not far from Friday’s crash site.
Widening the road from two lanes to four is also set for 2023, starting at the Hendry County line to Gator Slough Lane in Collier County.
Drivers are glad to hear it and would like to see the changes happen more quickly, if possible.
“I would like to see whatever is safest for the people that are driving in the area,” Lepy said.
“They just need to finish it up, make it double lanes because I think it’ll be way safer,” Lopez said.
The driver of the pickup in Friday’s crash was taken to the hospital with minor injuries. FHP Lt. Greg Bueno said the man will be cited for an improper lane change.
The Florida Highway Patrol will not release his name, nor the names of the victims, citing Marsy’s Law.
Trust WINK News for updates.