Traffic on SR 82 approaching the intersection of CR 850 (Corkscrew Rd.) where FDOT is currently working to add turn lanes. (Submitted photo/Travis Anderson)
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, 19-year-old Marcos Gaspar was driving a Ford Expedition east on SR 82 near Lamm Rd. last week when he drove across the center line and into the path of an oncoming Hyundai Sonata driven by Shaun Weedall who was traveling west on SR 82. Weedall died as a result of the crash and Gaspar was transported to Lee Health with serious injuries. The Florida Highway Patrol said that charges are pending the outcome of alcohol testing. The victim’s mother, Becky Weedall Wilson, posted on social media that her son was “An amazing selfless young man with a heart of gold and will be greatly missed. He was my oldest son and my rock…I was hoping this was all a dream.” Little did Wilson know that her world would change the day after she posted an image on Facebook that read “When someone you love dies…you never quite get over it. You just slowly get through each day. But you always keep them tucked safely in your heart.” For years, residents have complained to local and state leaders that SR 82 needs to be widened and that a median or barrier should be constructed in order to prevent incidents like this from occurring. In fact, the number of fatalities over recent years seem to back up the push for a safer State Road 82. From 2010 until 2015, 28 lives have been lost along SR 82 from Colonial Blvd. in Lee County to SR 29 in Immokalee. This includes the short stretch of roadway in Hendry County as well. However, according to the Florida Department of Transportation, the widening of SR 82 on the Collier County side isn’t slated to begin until 2019 even though the project has been in the works since 2009. Communications Manager Zachary Burch with the Florida Department of Transportation said that although the stretch of SR 82 in Immokalee will not be improved in the near future, other improvements along the road are under way. Burch points out that the stretch of SR 82 that runs through Hendry County has been widened from two lanes to four lanes and the stretch of SR 82 that runs from Colonial Blvd. to Shawnee Rd. in Lee County will be widened from four lanes to six lanes with medians, bike lanes, and a shared use path. The construction on that portion in Lee County is expected to begin next month. For now, drivers are encouraged to be patient and exercise due care along the highway.