One man is dead after being ejected from a 2000 Ford Explorer on Florida’s Turnpike Thursday afternoon, officials said.
Police identified the man as 19-year-old Joel Rodriguez from Florida City; he was not wearing his seat belt.
According to Florida Highway Patrol, the driver of the SUV — 19-year-old Dudley Silva of Homestead — lost control for unknown reasons, causing the car to roll over near the Okeechobee Road exit. It is unknown if alcohol was involved.
“The passenger died, and the driver, who was wearing his seat belt, sustained life-threatening injuries,” said FHP spokesman Joe Sanchez. “That’s why we emphasize that seat belts save lives.”
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The accident happened around 3 p.m. on the Turnpike’s northbound lanes. Officials had to close both north and southbound lanes for 15 minutes to land a helicopter to airlift Rodriguez.
The closure, which has since been cleared, backed up traffic for miles. Both victims were taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital's Ryder Trauma Center where Rodriguez was pronounced dead.