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Drivers in fatal crash not speeding, FHP says

MANATEE — Two drivers killed in a weekend crash were driving the speed limit when their vehicles hit head on, according to a Florida Highway Patrol report released Monday.

James T. Jones, 40, of Avon Park, died after his 2002 four-door Dodge pickup crossed the center line of State Road 62, just west of Corbett John Road Sunday afternoon and hit a 2007 Ford Expedition head on.

The driver of that sport utility vehicle, 59-year-old Palmetto resident Janice D. Zonneveld, was killed instantly. Authorities said her Yorkshire terrier, which rode in the front passenger seat, also died.

“We don’t know exactly why he crossed the line,” Lt. Chris Miller said. “But we do know there was no indication either vehicle was speeding.”

The speed limit along that stretch of roadway is 60 mph.

The crash, which took place at about 3:30 p.m. destroyed both vehicles, and sent the Expedition into a grassy area far off the side of the highway and left the pickup on its top a short distance away. Firefighters had to flip the pickup to remove Jones from the driver’s seat.

Jones’ wife Betty Jones, 36, and their sons Curtis Jones, 14, and Jimmy Jones, 3, passengers in the pickup, survived. Betty Jones was taken to Manatee Memorial Hospital on Sunday night in serious condition. Manatee Memorial Hospital Spokesman Vernon DeSear said she was in stable condition on Monday.

Curtis and Jimmy Jones were taken to All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg. Curtis was still listed as a patient there on Monday, said All Children’s Hospital spokesman Roy Adams. Jimmy was not listed on the hospital registry.

James Jones was driving east on S.R. 62 before the crash took place, troopers said. When his pickup came across the center line, Zonneveld tried to get out of the way, but the two vehicles collided.

Zonneveld lived in the 9300 block of 27th Avenue East.

Her family did not return phone calls on Monday but people who identified themselves as relatives left posted messages online Monday at Bradenton.com.

“Janice was my very dear sister-in-law, such a sweet, kind, and talented person,” wrote a woman who identified herself as Rebecca. “I will truly miss her. Life is so very precious, so each day we should be so very thankful for that day.”

Another woman, who identified herself as Zonneveld’s daughter, wrote: “This was my Mom. . . . She was a special person. Her eight grandchildren were her world. Our hearts are broken. Our family pet’s name was Gray. He was my Mom and Dad’s little buddy.”

FHP homicide investigator Cpl. David Brunner said the wreck is the seventh fatal traffic crash in Manatee County so far this year. All five people involved in the crash wore their seat belts, Brunner said.

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