ORLANDO, Fla. – A 31-year-old Winter Springs man was killed early Tuesday when an SUV headed the wrong way on State Road 528 crashed into his van head-on in Orange County, the Florida Highway Patrol said.
Troopers said Christopher Canela died in the crash, which was reported at 1:20 a.m. on SR 528 east near State Road 417.
Officials with the FHP said Jason Torrens, 31, of Orlando, was driving a 2014 Dodge SUV westbound in the eastbound lanes of SR 528.
Canela was driving an AAA van east on SR 528 when he was struck head-on, the FHP said. Canela, who was wearing a seat belt, was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the FHP.
It's not known if Canela was on the job at the time of the crash.
Daniel Gomez is a family friend of Canela.
"It’s very sad that happened because when you leave your house, you’re supposed to come back home," said Gomez.
AAA released a statement about the crash.
"We are profoundly saddened by this tragic incident that took place (Tuesday) morning in Orlando. On behalf of all of us at AAA, our heartfelt condolences go out to the victim’s family and friends during
this most difficult time. Eliminating deaths and injuries on our roadways is a top priority for AAA. AAA will cooperate fully with any and all police investigations," AAA said.
Torrens, who was also wearing his seat belt, was taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center with serious injuries, the FHP said.
Troopers said a blood sample was taken from Torrens.
"We don’t know if this is a situation that a driver made a U-turn in the middle of the 528, so we’re still trying to evaluate what happened," said Lt. Kim Montes with the Florida Highway Patrol.
"All charges will be pending toxicology results," the FHP report said.
"It does appear that he was impaired, but because of his injuries we’ll wait for those blood alcohol tests to come back," Montes said.
SR 528 east was closed in the area but the toll road later reopened.
The crash remains under investigation.
For the past three years, the Central Florida Expressway Authority has put up more wrong-way systems that include lights, cameras and signs notifying traffic officials immediately when a driver is traveling the wrong way on Central Florida expressway ramps. The system has detected about 450 wrong-way drivers since February 2015, according to Expressway Authority officials.