Florida Highway Patrol: Truck driver causes chain reaction on SR-31, injuring four

Published: May 12, 2022 1:17 PM EDT
Updated: May 12, 2022 6:13 PM EDT

A 56-year-old Cape Coral man driving a truck-tractor told authorities he dropped paperwork in the cab of his truck and it kept him from stopping ahead of traffic on a North Fort Myers roadway, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

The crash caused a chain reaction collision between four vehicles and injured four people on State Road 31 at Old Bayshore Road, causing the roadway to be shut down for hours.

Troopers said the crash remains under investigation. It happened just before 10:30 a.m. on Thursday.

The truck-tractor driven by the Cape Coral man hit a stopped SUV driven by a 52-year-old Winter Springs woman. The woman and a 17-year-old boy, also of Winter Springs, suffered critical injuries.

They collided with another stopped SUV driven by a 55-year-old Lakeland woman, who suffered serious injuries.

The two vehicles then collided with a tractor-trailer driven by a 35-year-old Polk City man, who suffered minor injuries, troopers said.

State Road 31 is known for being dangerous. Last week a 23-year-old man died after he crossed into the northbound lanes and crashed into a truck near the intersection of Bermont Road.  one person died, but in Charlotte County.

“When I first arrived on scene, that was one of the first thoughts that come across my mind is, did we have a fatal accident here,” said Bayshore Fire Chief Doug Underwood.

It’s a roadway known for distracted and high-speed drivers, Underwood said.

“It’s horrific. People need to stop and pay attention. Put your phone down. If you’re going to be late, you’re going to be late, it isn’t worth somebody dying to hurry up and get to the next stoplight,” said Debbie Bishop, who drives on State Road 31 regularly.

The 2-lane road stretches for about 36 miles connecting North Fort Myers to Arcadia in DeSoto County. The Florida Department of Transportation is expected to expand the road to four lanes in some stretched but the construction is not slated to begin until next year.

“Tomorrow isn’t promised. Not at all. If you want to make it home, think about the people around you wanting to make it home,” Bishop said.