LAKE PLACID — One crash followed another Sunday night on a short stretch of State Road 70.

At the scene of the second wreck, a Highlands County volunteer firefighter got hurt when a car ran into a trailer he was trying to help clear from the roadway.

His name and condition were not yet available to the public as of press time.

Both wrecks occurred on a stretch of SR 70 known for fatal or serious injury wrecks, in part because of guardrails on both shoulders that protect vehicles from plunging in canals, but also prevent escape routes from dangerous situations.

The first wreck took place at or just prior to 911 calls at 8:50 p.m. on SR 70 at Greenbrier Lane, near the Okeechobee County line.

Highlands County Sheriff’s Office reports a westbound vehicle crossed the centerline into the path of two eastbound vehicles.

Highlands County Fire Rescue had to extricate one person from the wreckage, and Aeromed helicopter carried one person to Tampa General Hospital.

Reports vary on whether four or five people were then transported to local emergency rooms, but reports concur on six people being involved in the wreck.

Florida Highway Patrol is still investigating that incident.

The second crash took place at or just before 9:20 p.m. Sunday at the intersection with Bear Road, almost seven miles west of the first wreck and near the intersection with U.S. 27.

Sheriff’s Office officials said two motorists, one eastbound and one westbound, ran into a flatbed semi-trailer stretched across the road with no running lights.

Reportedly, an off-duty Highlands County volunteer firefighter stopped to assist with moving the trailer off the road and got hit when one of the cars hit the trailer and pushed it into his leg.

According to Highlands County Public Information Officer Gloria Rybinski, the firefighter was transported as a precaution, but is “doing OK.”

In each instance, the road was blocked for an hour, according to preliminary reports.

That stretch of SR 70 has played host to now seven wrecks with serious injury or deaths in the last five months.

• Linda Wood, 68, of Port St. Lucie was killed by a wreck 8:30 a.m. Feb. 23 in a single vehicle accident on SR 70 in DeSoto County, west of the Highlands County line. She was the sole passenger in a 1997 Mercury Marquis driven by David Wood, 64, of Port St. Lucie, also transported to DeSoto Memorial Hospital with serious injuries.

They were traveling west on SR 70, west of S.E. Highlands County Line Road, when the car left the road onto the shoulder, hit the canal embankment, went airborne and collided with the opposite canal embankment.

• Jaime Karbett, 31, of Deltona was seriously injured in a single-vehicle crash at 2:55 a.m. March 31 on SR 70 near Riverside Road. While eastbound in a 2014 Honda Civic, she failed to negotiate a curve, ran off the road to the right, drove on the south shoulder of the road and struck a guardrail. The car kept going along the guardrail until it came to a stop with the guardrail poking through the top of the vehicle.

Karbett was transported to Lakeland Regional Health.

• Traffic stopped in the eastbound SR 70 lane resulted in a five-vehicle, chain-reaction, rear-end wreck on May 6 in the area of SR 70 and County Road 721 saw only minor injuries among a total of seven drivers and passengers.

Charles Hale, 76, of Springboro, Ohio, was stopped in a 2016 Chevy pickup while Alexander Buck, 24, of Okeechobee was also stopped in a 2013 Dodge truck.

Coming up behind them were, in order, a 2009 Nissan Sentra, driven by Claudia McDougall, 75, of Melbourne; a 2006 Toyota Sienna van, driven by Niurka Diaz, 56, of LaBelle, with passenger Rolando Guevara, 53, of LaBelle; and a 2006 Century Freightliner semi-trailer, driven by Lara Eloy, 46, of Immokalee.

Eloy, the semi driver, was reportedly unable to slow down fast enough and hit the rear of the Toyota, starting the chain reaction. All of the vehicles ended up in the same eastbound lane on SR 70.

Eloy was cited for reckless driving.

• Rosetta Scott, 63, of Lake Worth was seriously injured in a three-vehicle crash at 9:09 p.m. May 31.

She was stopped in a 2005 white Buick Century in the westbound lane of SR 70 facing south, apparently with its lights shut off.

A 2016 Subaru Impreza came to a complete stop in the eastbound lane, but a westbound 2017 Ford F-150, driven by 59-year-old Ralph Edwin Samons of Dade City, stopped too late to avoid hitting the Buick.

The front of the F-150 collided with the left side of the Buick, rotating the Buick counter-clockwise until the rear of the vehicle collided with the front of the Subaru.

• Jerry Hughes, 51, and Stephanie Hughes, 44, were killed in a two-vehicle crash at 1:30 p.m. June 30.

Francisco Cordova, 72, of Lake Placid, was driving a 1999 Freightliner Century semi-truck and trailer westbound on SR 70, east of Robert McGee Road. The couple was in a 2012 Toyota Tacoma pickup and trailer, heading east, when they began to hydroplane.

The truck veered into the westbound lane directly in front of the semi, and they collided.


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