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Hobe Sound woman airlifted to Miami after head-on crash in Florida Keys Monday

A Hobe Sound, Florida, woman was flown to Ryder Trauma Center in Miami, and a Wichita, Kansas, woman was taken to Mariners Hospital in Tavernier after the vehicle in which they were passengers was hit head-on by another car near mile marker 79 late Monday morning.

The driver of the latter vehicle, Lokesh Paduchuri, 24, of Webster, New York, told Florida Highway Patrol troopers he turned his southbound-traveling 2017 Nissan Rogue into the northbound lane to avoid rear-ending the vehicle directly in front of him.

In doing so, Paduchuri’s Rogue hit head-on a 2006 Toyota Highlander driven by Duane Patton, 60, of Wichita. Two of the four passengers in Patton’s vehicle suffered injuries.

Peggy Merritt, 88, from Hobe Sound, was in serious but stable condition when medics airlifted her to Ryder, according to an FHP report. Vicki Patton, 79, of Wichita, was taken to Mariners in serious condition, according to the FHP.

Lt. Kathleen McKinney, FHP sub-district commander, said charges are pending.

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