One dead in highway wreck

A blown tire led to a severe wreck at the Tuckers Grade exit on Interstate 75 that cost one woman her life and sent a man to the hospital Wednesday.

The wreck in the southbound lane at mile marker 158 in southern Charlotte County occurred at 1 p.m., said Lt. Dan Bernosky with the Florida Highway Patrol. The 1988 Mazda 626 sedan was apparently traveling at the highway's 70 mph speed limit when the left rear tire blew and the driver lost control of the car.

The driver apparently tried to exit via the off ramp, and almost made it, Bernosky said. But the car hit the muddy shoulder beside the ramp and overturned twice.

The passenger, believed to be a Haitian woman in her 20s, was not wearing her seat belt and was partially ejected from the vehicle. Emergency medical personnel who responded said she was crossways in the car, with her feet sticking out the car's rear window.

The woman was alive, conscious and trapped under the car when help arrived. Rescuers used air bags to lift the car, "cribbing" it with blocks of wood to support it.

The extraction process took about 10 to 15 minutes, said Chief Mike Harper with Charlotte County Fire & EMS, but the woman died before she could be removed. She was not identified late Wednesday, pending notification of next of kin.

The driver, Jean R. Beauchard, 26, of Naples, survived with possible head injuries and was taken by ambulance in serious condition to Lee Memorial Hospital. He had been wearing a seat belt, an FHP report shows.

You can e-mail Malcolm Brenner at [email protected]


Staff Writer