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Corvette driver dies in SR 776 wreck

SUN PHOTO BY TOM CHANG The driver of a yellow Chevy Corvette died following a collision with a white Toyota 4Runner Thursday at the intersection of State Road 776 and Winchester Boulevard in Englewood.

ENGLEWOOD — Guillermo Gonzalez, 73, of Bradenton, died Thursday morning in a two-car collision at the intersection of Winchester Boulevard and State Road 776.

The crash involved a yellow Chevy Corvette driven by Gonzalez, and a white Toyota 4Runner driven by Brandon Crain Murphy, 64, of North Port. Gonzalez was unresponsive at the scene, according to Dee Hawkins-Garland, spokeswoman for Charlotte County Fire/EMS. He was transported to Englewood Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The call came in at 8:49 a.m., Hawkins-Garland said. Westbound traffic on S.R. 776 was restricted to one lane due to the accident.

According to a Florida Highway Patrol report, the Corvette was stopped southbound at the stop sign in the left turn lane on Winchester Boulevard at S.R. 776. The Toyota 4Runner was traveling westbound in the inside lane of S.R. 776, approaching the intersection with Winchester.

The Corvette failed to yield the right of way to the 4Runner while attempting a left turn onto eastbound S.R. 776. Murphy took evasive action by steering to the left and struck the left side of the Corvette, causing both vehicles to travel southwest, the report said.

Murphy was not injured, according to the report.

Followers of the Englewood Sun on Facebook responded all day to the news of the wreck.

“No surprise! There are way too many close calls there (at S.R. 776 and Winchester),” wrote Julie Fox-Jensen on the Sun-Herald of Englewood’s Facebook page.

Access eastbound to S.R. 776 was blocked off from Winchester Boulevard and redirected westbound. The Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office and Englewood Fire/EMS were first on the scene.

“I was three cars behind when it happened,” said Deva Ballentyne, who was on her way to work at EARS Animal Rescue Sanctuary. “When I pulled out, I jumped out of the car and a couple of other women were out there calling the ambulance. One of the women said the Corvette driver wasn’t breathing normally. He was bleeding out of one of his eyes and his eyes were closed. He looked peaceful and was very well-dressed.”

Other comments on Facebook spoke of the need for a traffic light at the intersection.

“That is a bad intersection,” wrote Harry Murray. “There needs to be a light there.”

“I drive through here every day and hate it,” Trudy Lutz wrote. “They are putting a light in, should be working within a month or so. Not soon enough unfortunately.”

The case remains under investigation by the FHP.

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