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Deputy’s patrol car flips in overnight U.S. 1 crash

Police said Deputy Daniel Hill, 22, walked away from this crash after his patrol car flipped and was walking around assisting others. No major injuries were reported in the three vehicle overnight wreck on U.S. 1
Police said Deputy Daniel Hill, 22, walked away from this crash after his patrol car flipped and was walking around assisting others. No major injuries were reported in the three vehicle overnight wreck on U.S. 1

A Monroe County Sheriff’s Office deputy was hurt in a three-vehicle overnight crash on U.S. 1 on Sugarloaf Key when an SUV struck his patrol car, flipping it over, while trying to pass another car, police said.

“He saw an oncoming vehicle pull into his lane of travel and it was too late to avoid the crash,” said Deputy Becky Herrin, spokeswoman for the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, about the deputy behind the wheel.

Deputy Daniel Hill, 22, of Marathon, was later treated at Lower Keys Medical Hospital but none of the other seven people, including four children between age 1 and 13, involved were hurt.

By the time other deputies arrived, Hill’s car was upside down in the road and Hill was up and about and helping those in the other two vehicles, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

The 12:30 a.m. wreck shut down traffic for two hours less than 24 hours after a head-on crash left one dead and eight injures in the same spot at mile marker 16.

According to state troopers, Anthony R. Nieves, 34, of Key West, was southbound on U.S. 1 in a 2009 Dodge Journey with a woman and two children inside when he tried to pass a Chevrolet Cruze using the northbound lane.

At the same time, the deputy was headed north returning to his Marathon post after taking a prisoner from Marathon to the Stock Island Detention Center.

Nieves struck Hill’s patrol car, a 2016 Ford Taurus, which was headed north. The impact caused Hill to lose control and roll over, coming to a stop with the car upside down.

The SUV then spun and struck the Cruze, driven by Juliette Lively, 27, of Groveland, Fla., who had two children, Anaya Lively, 1, and Jenice Menendez, 8, in her car.

Inside the SUV with Nieves were Jennifer Norat, 33, Anissa Nieves, 13, and Aleeya Nieves, 8, all of Key West.

“There were no major injuries. Charges are pending,” said Lt. Kathleen McKinney, of FHP, who spent most of Friday monitoring a 9 a.m. crash of a pickup and an SUV.

Deputy Hill assisted the others involved in the crash before going to Lower Keys Medical Center, McKinney said.

Passing was also the cause of the 9 a.m. Friday crash that closed down both lanes of U.S. 1 for several hours, as investigators reviewed the scene. A Ford F-150 driven by Thomas Fletcher, 56, of Sugarloaf Key, went to pass when he struck head-on a Ford Explorer filled with a family headed to Key West.

Jairon Darwin Lunapaz, 43, of Honduras, the driver of the Explorer was killed.

That was the 27th traffic fatality handed by FHP this year. In 2015, there were 18. In addition this year, eight traffic deaths were handled by Key West police.

Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen

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