The driver who caused a head-on collision on the Seven Mile Bridge Monday afternoon was in a pickup truck reported stolen by its owner, speeding and driving recklessly before crashing into an ambulance, according to a Florida Highway Patrol report.
The ambulance, owned by a private company called the Florida Keys Ambulance Service, was transporting a 68-year-old patient at the time of the crash, which happened shortly before 2 p.m. That person is now in Jackson South Medical Center in Kendall in critical but stable condition, the FHP said.
Charges are pending against the 36-year-old driver of the 2002 Lincoln Blackwood pickup, whom the FHP had not named as of Tuesday.
The agency stopped releasing names of people involved in car crashes in 2020, based on its interpretation of the 2018 Marcy’s Law constitutional amendment, even when a person may have been involved in a crime.
Lt. Kathleen McKinney, sub-district commander for the FHP’s operations in the Keys, said that her agency’s crash investigator will discuss the charges with the Monroe County State Attorney’s Office before seeking an arrest warrant from a judge.
Keys State Attorney Dennis Ward said that warrant had not been written up as of Tuesday afternoon.
According to the FHP report, the Lincoln was heading south on the bridge near mile marker 43.5, which is about halfway across the iconic span. Other people driving on the two-lane bridge on the bridge told police the pickup’s driver was speeding and passing vehicles in oncoming traffic.
At one point, the man drove into the northbound lane and saw the ambulance approaching. He tried to avoid hitting it by driving into the shoulder, but he hit the concrete wall before colliding with the front of the emergency vehicle, according to the FHP report. The pickup fishtailed and hit the wall again before stopping.
Firefighters took him to Fishermen’s Community Hospital in the Middle Keys city of Marathon.
FHP investigators contacted the Lincoln’s owner, who told them he did not give permission to the man to drive it and he was reporting it stolen, the report states. By the time police were able to identify the driver, he was released from the hospital.
The FHP did not immediately respond Tuesday when asked if investigators know the driver’s whereabouts.
The Seven Mile Bridge, which connects Marathon with Little Duck Key in the Lower Keys, was closed until around 3:45 p.m. while investigators, rescue workers and tow trucks cleared the scene.