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Two people die in unrelated crashes in Manatee County; a third accident victim listed critical

MANATEE -- Two people are dead as a result of unrelated accidents early Friday morning, and investigators suspect both crashes were alcohol related.

At about 5:10 a.m., Leandro Verzini-Fernandez of Sarasota was driving south on Interstate 75 about a mile south of the U.S. 301 interchange when he veered right onto the paved emergency lane and collided with a tandem trailer attached to a disabled UPS tractor-trailer, according to a Florida Highway Patrol.

Verzini-Fernandez's 2003 Honda Civic then rotated clockwise before coming to a final rest in the outside southbound lane of I-75, troopers said.

Verzini-Fernandez was pronounced dead at the scene. Troopers on scene believed the crash was alcohol-related. He was wearing his seat belt, according to the report.

The driver of the tractor-trailer received only minor injuries.

The morning commute was affected as a result of a road blockage of southbound traffic on I-75, with delays for several hours after the crash.

At 9:20 a.m. all lanes were officially reopened, according to FHP spokesman Lt. Greg Bueno.

Drivers experienced further delays Friday morning as a result of a rollover that occurred just two miles away at mile marker 229.

One person in that crash was injured in the crash reported at 7:22 a.m. and was taken to Blake Medical Center.

In southern Manatee, a 24-year-old woman was killed early Friday after she lost control of her car and slammed into a utility pole along U.S. 41 near the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, according to FHP.

Destaney Richardson was traveling north on U.S. 41 near the intersection with Somerset Avenue at about 1:30 a.m.

Troopers said Richardson was speeding when she approached a left curve and lost control, rotated counter-clockwise across the southbound lanes, left the road and struck a utility pole.

Richardson was pronounced dead at the scene.

A third accident in the wee hours of Friday was also believed to alcohol related.

At about 12:10 a.m., a 52-year-old man was walking eastbound in the grass median of U.S. 301 just north of State Road 70 when he walked into the path of a 2004 Buick Rendevous, according to an FHP release.

The Buick, driven by a 39-year-old Bradenton woman, hit the man, who was wearing dark-colored clothing. Troopers said they believe he was intoxicated.

The man was taken to Blake Medical Center, where he was listed in critical condition, according to the report.

Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter@JDeLeon1012.

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