A multi-vehicle crash that included a semi-truck hauling cars left three people dead and two others hospitalized, according to a release from the Florida Highway Patrol.
The crash, which was reported at 5:19 a.m. Sunday, occurred in the southbound lanes of Interstate 75 near mile marker 177 in south Sarasota County.
The driver of the car hauler had pulled onto the right shoulder of I-75 south of Toledo Blade Boulevard due to a mechanical problem, according to FHP. A 2016 Nissan Murano veered onto the shoulder and struck the hauler, then came to rest on the left shoulder and partially in the inside left lane, the FHP release stated.
According to FHP, the driver of a 2006 Toyota Avalon then was unable to avoid the Nissan Murano. The sequence of events is still under investigation.
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The driver of the hauler, who had exited the vehicle before it was hit, was struck at some point during the chain of events and killed, according to FHP. His identification is pending the notification of next of kin.
The driver and right rear passenger of the Nissan Murano were ejected from the car and pronounced dead at the scene, according to FHP, which identified them as Nathaniel Perkins III, 23, and Johneisha Gadson, 22, of Fort Myers. Another passenger was taken to Sarasota Memorial Hospital in serious condition.
According to FHP, the driver and two passengers of the Toyota Avalon escaped with minor injuries.
All southbound lanes were closed for several hours, finally opening to traffic about 2 p.m. Sunday.