Florida Keys

Five-car crash on Keys bridge sends two to hospital — and another crash injures deputy

A damaged Monroe County Sheriff’s Office patrol car is on top of a flatbed tow truck in front of a Key Largo gas station Tuesday, Nov. 6. The crash sent a deputy to the hospital to be treated for minor injuries.
A damaged Monroe County Sheriff’s Office patrol car is on top of a flatbed tow truck in front of a Key Largo gas station Tuesday, Nov. 6. The crash sent a deputy to the hospital to be treated for minor injuries.

Two car crashes, one involving five cars on the Snake Creek drawbridge and the other involving a Monroe County sheriff’s cruiser, snarled traffic in the Upper Florida Keys on Election Day.

The crash on the mile marker 86 bridge sent two people to the hospital in serious condition around 2:15 p.m. Tuesday.

According to a Florida Highway Patrol report, Jonas Wallis, 58, of Humboldt, Tennessee, was driving north on U.S. 1 in his 2018 Chevrolet Bolt. He did not notice the car in front of him, a 2012 Nissan Altima driven by Franco Aracelia, 45, of Miami, slow down in heavy traffic, the FHP report states.

The Bolt rear-ended the Altima, launching it into the back of a 2012 Honda Pilot driven by Eileen Hellams of Miami. The Altima kept going into the southbound lane and its rear left side struck the driver side of a southbound 2015 Chrysler 200 driven by Scott DeJuana, 25, of Key West.

The Altima continued traveling in the southbound lane into the path of a 2003 Chevy van, driven by Christian Ledwith, 25, of Tavernier.

Aracelia was taken to Mariners Hospital in Tavernier with serious injuries. A passenger in the Chrysler, Troy Scott, was flown by helicopter air ambulance to Jackson South Medical Center in Kendall. His condition was not immediately known.

Troopers cited Wallis with careless driving, according to the FHP report. Aracelia faces a charge of driving without a license. The FHP report states he was never issued one.

Deputy injured

Monroe sheriff’s Deputy Andrew Leird, 44, was injured and taken to Mariners Hospital with minor injuries after the driver of a 2019 Dodge Caravan minivan changed lanes heading north on U.S. 1 at mile marker 98 in Key Largo. The minivan’s driver did not see Leird’s Ford Taurus patrol car traveling next to him in the left lane, according to an FHP report.

The patrol car’s right front side was damaged, as was the left side of the minivan.

The Caravan’s driver, Joseph Kuchler, 60, of Joliet, Illinois, was cited for making an improper lane change, the FHP said.

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