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Women arrested in separate DUI manslaughter crashes

Punta Gorda woman had a BAC of .133; drove south in the northbound lanes of Interstate 75

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VENICE — A Punta Gorda woman is facing DUI-manslaughter and other charges after a wrong-way crash on Interstate 75 in December.

And a North Port woman is facing two DUI-manslaughter counts and other charges after colliding into the vehicle of a Port Charlotte woman in November, killing her and her unborn child.

Florida Highway Patrol made both arrests on Thursday.

Olivia Hernandez, 37, of Punta Gorda, was charged with DUI manslaughter, DUI with serious bodily injury and DUI with property damage when she was arrested Thursday and booked into Sarasota County Jail.

The Florida Highway Patrol Traffic Homicide Division made the arrest “after an exhaustive criminal investigation,” it said in a news release.

Around 10:40 p.m. Dec. 16, Hernandez was driving a 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe southbound in the northbound lanes of Interstate 75 near Mile Marker 194 in Venice.

“At the same time, a 2012 Nissan was traveling north on Interstate 75, in the vicinity of mile marker 194. The front left of the Hyundai collided with the front left of the Nissan,” according to a news release from the Florida Highway Patrol. “The crash resulted in the untimely death of the Nissan driver (male, age 21 of Lauderdale Lakes) and serious injuries to the Nissan passenger (female, age 16 of Pembroke Pines).”

The Florida Highway Patrol did not name the victims.

According to authorities, a toxicology examination showed Hernandez’s blood alcohol concentration level at a .133. The legal limit in Florida is .08.

She has no bond available, according to the booking sheet. Her arraignment is April 16.

Also on Thursday, the Florida Highway Patrol arrested another woman for another wreck.

Jasmine Ann Gray, 27 of the 8700 block of Alam Avenue in North Port was charged with DUI manslaughter counts — two counts; driving with a suspended license involving death — two counts; and DUI with property damage — two counts.

About 5:30 a.m. Nov. 29, Gray was driving a 2003 Honda Accord south on River Road near Center Road.

She veered across the center line and slammed head on into a 2016 Ford Focus, according to the report.

Cortney Nicole Kauffman, 28, of Port Charlotte, was killed. The driver of the Ford Focus, she the mother of two young boys and was pregnant at the time. Both she and the unborn baby were killed in the impact.

Kauffman, a certified nursing assistant, was headed to work, her family told The Venice Gondolier.

“A toxicology examination determined Gray’s blood alcohol concentration level to be a .124%,” the Florida Highway Patrol reported.

Troopers arrested Gray earlier Thursday and she was booked into the Sarasota County Jail. She was being held without bond.

Today, her finacé Jeff Jones said he still suffers. He created a makeshift memorial near the crash site.

“When this happened, so many people said they wanted to help. I received toys for my boys for Christmas, which was amazing. But there’s things I need to help get me back to work that people promised. It’s wrong to give someone hope but then not follow through with the promise.”

Kauffman is also survived by her mother, Carrie Robinson, father, Joe Kauffman, and sisters Megan and Morgan Kauffman.


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