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A 9-year-old died and eight other people were sent to the hospital after an early morning three-car crash Wednesday on Alligator Alley.
Adding to the confusion of the wreck: Two of the drivers took off on foot before being tracked down by law enforcement, the Florida Highway Patrol said.
The violent wreck, which shut down the westbound lanes of Interstate 75 near Mile Marker 43 for hours, happened about 3:30 a.m in western Broward County.
According to FHP, Carlos Gutierrez, 18, was heading west on I-75 in an Infiniti M37 when his front right side hit the left back of a Chevrolet Trailblazer, carrying seven people.
The impact caused the Trailblazer, being driven by 42-year-old Abel Mendoza, to overturn. Alvaro Feola, a spokesman for FHP, said the Trailblazer was heading from South Florida to Bradenton.
Eymi Aguilera-Torres, 9, a passenger in the Trailblazer, was taken by helicopter to Broward Health Medical Center, where she died. Esmeralda Madriles, 12, suffered serious injuries and was also taken to Broward Health. Mendoza, Areli Mendoza-Gonzalez, 7, Beatriz Gerardo, 37, and Arminda Gonzalez-Barrios, 41, suffered minor injuries, FHP said. Jensy Torres-Peraza, 25, was not injured.
Meanwhile, the Infiniti then collided with a Nissan Versa, being driven by 17-year-old Jeraisy Perez.
Feola said both the driver of the Infiniti and the Nissan Versa took off running right after the crash.
“They were caught soon after,” he said, adding that they were apprehended by Broward Sheriff’s Office K-9 Units.
Both were taken to area hospitals to be treated for injuries.
Feola said it was not immediately clear what led to the fatal crash, but investigators were “looking at everything and collecting evidence,” he said.
“It takes time,” he said.