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Woman, 20, airlifted from U.S. 301 crash

MANATEE — A 20-year-old Bradenton woman is in critical condition after slamming into the back of a stopped tractor-trailer this morning on U.S. 301 in Palmetto, just west of Ellenton.

Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Doug Dodson said just after 8 a.m., the woman drove her Nissan Sentra into the back of the truck on U.S. 301, at 19th Avenue East. The woman was not wearing a seat belt. Her name has not yet been released.

Emergency personnel airlifted the woman to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg in critical condition.

Witness Robin Merrill said the woman sped around her car as she drove on U.S. 301, and never braked before slamming into the back of the trailer. The impact of the crash knocked the Nissan back about 15 feet after it hit the truck.

“She never slowed down. It was a loud collision,” Merrill said.

Deltona trucker Jack Lasky said he was dropping off a load of Styrofoam at a construction site at the intersection and stopped while preparing to make a right turn.

“It’s really too bad. I am worried about her,” Lasky said.

Dodson said it is unclear if the woman was distracted while driving. He said troopers found a cell phone on the Nissan’s dashboard and a jury summons for today in the car.

“She may have been on her way to court. I am going to need to talk to her to find out what happened,” Dodson said.

A woman who said she arrived on the scene shortly after the accident said she placed the telephone on the dashboard. Cindy Buchenhorsp said the phone was falling out of the victim's pocket.