LEHIGH ACRES, Fla. - After a weekend crash that seriously injured a family of three and a teenage driver, those who live along State Road 82 say it is long overdue for an upgrade.
"Seems we have an accident every weekend," Sheila Taylor told WINK News. Taylor has lived just off State Road 82 near Sunshine Boulevard for several years.
"We have a lot of trucks, a lot of semis," Taylor said. "You have your orange trucks come through and your grapefruit trucks."
Saturday morning, the Lee County Sheriff's Office says 18-year-old Bryan Stevens was driving a black Chevrolet pickup when he crossed the center line on State Road 82, slamming nearly head-on into a red truck carrying a mother, father, and their 15-mont-old daughter between Alabama Road and Sunshine Boulevard.
Investigators say Anna Marie Gomez was not properly restrained in the vehicle. She was rushed to Tampa General in critical condition, but had been upgraded to fair condition by Sunday evening.
Albertina Ortiz Gomez, 31, was taken to the hospital with critical injuries. Victor Perez Gomez, 34, sustained serious injuries. Stevens was also seriously hurt. Investigators say Stevens was at fault for the crash, which is still under investigation.
Neither Lee Memorial Hospital nor the sheriff's office could provide updated information on Albertina Gomez's and Bryan Stevens' conditions Monday. Victor Gomez had been upgraded to fair condition.
"It's one of the damn most dangerous roads in the area," driver Greg Tomczak told WINK News. Tomczak said he sometimes will go out of his way to avoid the road.
"Of all the roads I travel in Lee County, this one is the most chaotic," Tomczak said. "Nobody uses their turn signals or anything else. It's horrible."
Driver inattention is part of the problem, according to officials with the Florida Department of Transportation in Lee County. The agency is undertaking plans right now to widen State Road 82, going so far as to call it a priority. But acquiring the necessary land takes time, and construction is still years away.
Until then, officials say it's incumbent upon drivers to pay attention and obey the rules of the road. That alone could prevent a great number of accidents.
Those who live nearby, like Sheila Taylor, know to heed the advice. She just hopes others will, too.
"I could be the next person trying to get on 82 (and have an accident) because nobody is paying attention," Taylor said.