2 killed in wrong-way crash on Florida's Turnpike near Cutler Bay

Northbound lanes shut down for much of Friday morning

By Madeleine Wright - Reporter , Peter Burke - Local10.com Managing Editor

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. - A fatal crash involving a prisoner transport van and two other vehicles closed the northbound lanes of Florida's Turnpike in southwest Miami-Dade County for most of Friday morning.

The early-morning crash prompted the closure of the northbound lanes between Southwest 216th Street and Caribbean Boulevard near Cutler Bay.

"This is a horrible accident where two people lost their lives, and a lot of family members are going to be grieving," Florida Highway Patrol spokesman Joe Sanchez said.

Sanchez said the driver of one of the cars was driving south in the northbound lanes before the crash.

He said the driver of the Homestead police prisoner transport van was able to swerve out of the way before being struck head-on, but the wrong-way driver crashed their car into a second vehicle. 

The wrong-way driver was pronounced dead at the scene. Authorities said the driver of the other vehicle that was struck head-on was trapped inside their car. 

"As you can see, they cut the roof off to try to get that person out of the vehicle. Unfortunately, the person passed away at the hospital," Sanchez said. 

Sanchez said all three inmates inside the van were taken to a hospital as a precaution. 

Authorities are now working to determine why one of the drivers was traveling in the wrong direction on the Turnpike.

"I don't know if speed was a factor," Sanchez said. "I don't know if the individual was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. That's why it's an ongoing investigation."

Meanwhile, traffic was backed up for hours during the height of the morning commute.

"We realize a lot of the motorists were upset because we had to close the Turnpike down and have them exit 216th (Street) to get back on at 211th (Street), but we have a responsibility and that responsibility is to conduct a thorough investigation, which they deserve and their family members deserve," Sanchez said. 

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