MANATEE - A 12-year-old girl died after the SUV she was riding in slammed into a concrete barrier on an Interstate 75 overpass, throwing her through a window and onto U.S. 301 below, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
The girl was identified this afternoon as Amarilis Cardona of Cape Coral. There were four other people, all from Cape Coral, in the vehicle.
The accident happened about 8 a.m., apparently after a tire on the SUV separated from the wheel, said FHP Lt. Chris Miller. The driver, who was heading north on I-75, lost control, and the vehicle slammed into the guardrail.
The girl, who was asleep in a back seat, was thrown through a window and onto U.S. 301.
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The driver of a tractor-trailer heading north on U.S. 301 saw the girl hit the pavement, and turned his rig across all lanes of the highway to prevent oncoming vehicles from striking the girl, Miller said.
The girl was flown by helicopter to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg in critical condition, but she later died, according to FHP.
The accident snarled traffic on both Interstate 75 and U.S. 301. It is the same interchange that was severely damaged by a tanker truck explosion last year.