Causeway Traffic Crash Results in Life-Threatening Injuries

SC Staff Report

A serious three-vehicle crash at 6:38 p.m. Saturday, March 26 on the Sanibel Causeway that backed up traffic for hours resulted in life-threatening injuries for two individuals.

Twenty-four-year-old Matthew Collett of Cape Coral was traveling east in a Chevrolet Silverado, when he used the roadway shoulder to pass an eastbound Jeep Wrangler. When Collett attempted to re-enter the roadway, the left-rear tire of his Silverado clipped the right-front corner of the Wrangler.

Collett’s Silverado then traveled into the westbound lane and struck a westbound Dodge Caravan head on. Collett’s Silverado came to rest on its roof. Witnesses at the scene told Lee County Sheriff’s Deputies Collett and the driver of the Wrangler were driving recklessly just before the crash.

All occupants of Collett’s Silverado and the Dodge Caravan were transported by Lee County EMS to Gulf Coast Hospital for treatment of injuries. Collett had a blood alcohol level of 0.028 and tested positive for benzodiazepines.

The LCSO report stated Collett was sedated at the hospital. One individual sustained an injury which was likely to be fatal and a second individual sustained life-threatening injuries. Injuries to a third individual were not serious in nature.

An update has not been released on the two individuals with life-threatening injuries. Collett was found at fault for the crash for reckless driving based on the evidence, LCSO stated.

Comments (13)

  1. Edward J Hendrick

    While I appreciate that you are doing some reporting on this event, there has been wide discussion on the island reflecting resident dissatisfaction with the paucity of detail and the lack of complete reporting of this event. Beyond the sad loss of life and serious injury, this was significant and impacted people coming from and going to Sanibel, and is still another event in what seems to be an increase in traffic congestion, pedestrian crossings, and reckless driving associated with the causeway. Although under LEE County supervision, the Sanibel Police Department–who have no problem telling me daily about congestion–ought to have some ownership for reporting out events that impact us even if the jurisdiction is separate.

  2. Martha Howard

    I am happy to finally see a report on the accident. There was nothing in the NewsPress or in either of the Sanibel newspapers. Something as big as this was should have gotten some information in the papers.

    • Ann sadowski68

      Yes, I agree. Why does it seem like when the is a death involved Sanibel doesn’t want to be public with the info.

  3. Rick Thompson

    Is the blood alcohol level of .028 correct? Or, should it be .28? One is very low and the other very high,

  4. Stephanie Rahe

    I agree with the comments above Why was there no news releases about this accident?

  5. Jack Campbell

    I certainly agree with with Mr.Hendrick
    The lack of any information on an incident of this magnitude involving so many people is sadOur prayers are with those ínjured.

  6. Even your cold dispassionate accounting of this accident should bring up discussions about what we are going to do with this traffic and the crazy driving on a congested 2 lane causeway. More police presence – Lee County officers, as I understand this is a jurisdictional matter, actually present on the causeway in marked cars might be a deterrent to not only bad driving but other annoyances like overly loud music and anti social behavior. We are stuck with the traffic on this island – on Wed it took us an hour to reach the causeway from our house out by Bowman’s Beach. We left the house at 4pm – never again ! Last Sunday the causeway was shut down for hours – people probably missed planes,people were left at the airport, reservations were missed, sticky sandy sunburned beach goers were stuck in cars and people were killed or seriously injured. And no mention of this in the media – the local media ! Why ?

  7. Thanks for the coverage. Was his blood alcohol 0.28 or .028? The legal limit is .08. This needs clarification. It is also my understanding that one person has died in the hospital as a result of the accident.


      You are correct. One of the women (a passenger in the minivan) has died. The driver of the minivan (my cousin) is in a coma classifed as “severe brain injury.” She also has broken bones. Her daughter (also a passenger) has had neck surgery and seems to be on the road to recovery. I, too, would like to know the true BAL. Prayers are welcome!

      • Ann sadowski68

        I’m so sorry for your loss. I witnessed the accident from Punta Rassa and knew it was bad. But nothing was ever posted about it. I just learned about the fatality and just absolutely devastated for your family. I would want to know how the individual who caused the homicidal accident is going to be charged. Is he in jail currently, I could not find any info on this.

  8. My husband and I were returning to our home on Sanibel from a trip to Sarasota when we came upon this accident only 30 minutes after it had occurred. While police were directing us to return to Fort Myers, we explained to them that we lived on the island and were permitted to drive along the beach road to bypass the accident. Midway along the beach road we witnessed the aftermath of this horrific accident. We were saddened to see many young families standing by to witness this on the causeway islands where so many were enjoying a beautiful Saturday afternoon. In recent days, I was tried to inquire as to the injuries that occurred to the victims in this accident and the circumstances that caused it. Nowhere could I find any information. I agree with the former comments that as residents of the island, we should be receiving information much more rapidly that seriously affect those of us who live here. As we came onto the island, miles worth of traffic was backed up due to this accident and I’m certain many residents were unaware of what had happened. in this day in age of advanced technology, it should not take much to alert residents through an app or an alert on their phones to inform them of why they will be sitting in traffic for such extended periods of time. After this incident, I hope revision to whichever police agency covers this jurisdiction is made to more closely surveil this area of the causeway. Prior to this accident, on one Saturday I estimated no less than 100+cars on these islands. As horrific as this was, it could’ve been far more tragic given the number of families and small children that were in attendance that day. Sadly, many of them had to witness this.

  9. If I am reading the article correctly, Collett had a blood alcohol level 3 & 1/2 times the legal limit. The article states Collett had a blood alcohol level of 0.028. It does not say 0.028%. Does this seem correct?

  10. Unfortunately the elderly woman in the van succumbed to her injuries this past week.

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