Estero, Fla. -
U.S. Highway 41 is back open after a deadly crash shut down the road for several hours. The crash backed up traffic during the evening commute. It was a fatal accident that killed the passenger in one vehicle and critically injured the driver. In addition, if the driver survives, he's likely looking at a homicide charge.
All this started with a simple traffic stop for having their windows tinted too dark.
An older model van was heading south on 41 just south of Sanibel Boulevard in Estero when a trooper noticed its windows were tinted to dark. But things got chaotic just after he pulled it over. "As soon as the trooper exited his vehicle to issue his citations the vehicle and it's two passengers took off from the scene," said Kenn Watson of the Florida Highway Patrol. "They started heading northbound at a high rate of speed".
But then, they say, the trooper did not get involved in a high speed chase. "It's extremely dangerous and that is why the Florida Highway Patrol will not chase someone simply for a infraction," explained Watson. "We are not going to hurt anyone, we are not going to hurt the people that are running, we are not going to pursue for a non-violent offense".
Instead he followed the van but, they say, it was going so fast it lost control, jumped the median and hit a pickup truck head on. "That van just flew and it went over and over and over and I thought this can't really be happening," added a woman who didn't want to be identified. "It took place and I saw it all in my rear view mirror. I was just one car ahead of it and I'm not sure what happened it just happened so fast".
The passenger in the van, 40 year old Kyla Nesmith, died instantly. The name of the driver has not been released. They say neither were wearing seat belts.
Some say this stretch of 41 is really dangerous. "I was out here one time and one rolled over and I pulled the person out of the car so this is just a bad intersection," said Scott Cain who is the pastor of the nearby New Day Christian Church. "People are speeding, they stop at that light, they don't see people stopping and they just drive into the back end of them".
The latest information we have on the driver of the van was that he is in critical condition. The driver of the pickup truck after being hit head on, somehow, walked away from it. Trooper Watson said he had to talk him into going to the hospital just to be sure he was okay.