ENGLEWOOD — A game of pinochle may have been the last thing Louis Plante did Monday before dying.
Plante, 88, died in a two-vehicle crash at State Road 776 and Biggs Street, one of two people who died in area wrecks Monday. A second, separate accident claimed the life of an unidentified woman when she lost control of her car on Interstate 75 in North Port, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
Plante was killed in a crash at about 4:37 p.m. in Englewood involving a 2005 Buick SUV and a 1999 Dodge van that injured two other people, one critically, according to an FHP report.
Doris Plante, 87, was driving the Buick with her husband, Louis, as her passenger. Doris drove to the stop sign southbound on Biggs Street approaching S.R. 776. Kenneth Craig, 43, drove the Dodge van. Craig traveled eastbound from S.R. 776 when he approached the left turn lane at the intersection with Biggs Street, according to the report.
The Buick turned east on S.R. 776 while the van turned left to head north onto Biggs. As the Buick entered the right lane of S.R. 776 West, the van hit its right side. The Buick rolled on its side.
Louis was pronounced dead at Lee Memorial Hospital at 6:44 p.m. Doris is in critical condition at Blake Memorial Hospital. Craig is in serious condition at Lee Memorial. All three are Englewood residents.
Neighbors of the Plantes were shocked Tuesday to learn of the accident. Anthony Calderone lives next door to the Plantes on Albatross Lane in Englewood.
“(Louis) was a great neighbor and a good man,” Calderone said. “He was funny and always fun to have around for a drink. He and his wife are good people. I just had pizza with them on Sunday.”
Jerry DuBois, who lives near the Plantes, said they were fond of his baked goods.
“They enjoyed my eclairs and cookies,” DuBois said.
DuBois last talked to the Plantes at around 10:30 a.m. the day of the accident and he said they were going to go play pinochle.
People in businesses close to the accident site also expressed shock.
“Our last customers of the day saw it happen,” said Kelly Landini, store manager of Paradise Jewelers nearby on 3700 S. McCall Road. “The husband heard a boom and the wife saw the (vehicle) roll.”
According to Landini, there were about 50 people gathered at the accident scene.
David Mason, a cook at JB’s Conch Cafe on 3384 North Access Road, lives a half block away from the accident scene.
“I walked out there and the car was on its side,” Mason said. “Smoke was coming from it.”
Mason said the two medical helicopters arrived 10 minutes apart at the scene. All involved in the Englewood accident wore seat belts, according to the report.
Charges are pending in the investigation.
In Monday’s second fatal wreck, the woman, 46, who has not been identified pending notification of next of kin, was heading south on I-75 when she lost control of her car near mile marker 186 between Sumter Boulevard and River Road just after 9 p.m., according to the FHP. Her 2000 Toyota Camry veered off the road. She tried to steer back onto the interstate but overcorrected, according to the report, traveling into the center median and striking a large tree. The woman was wearing her seat belt, but died due to her injuries.
Anne Klockenkemper contributed to this report.