Three die in head-on crash on U.S. 441 North

OKEECHOBEE – A traffic crash that occurred Friday, May 11, at 1:50 p.m., on U.S. 441 near State Road 60 in Okeechobee County claimed the lives of three people from Okeechobee County.

According to the FHP report, at approximately 1:50 p.m. on Friday, a black 2010 Dodge Challenger, driven by Michael A. Murph, 31, of Orlando, was traveling south on U.S. 441 behind a 1994 semi-trailer truck, driven by Daniel O. Betancourt, 50, of Clewiston, in the southbound lane. Vernisha A. Murph, 19, of Pahokee, was a passenger in the Challenger.

A 2014 Kia Sportage SUV, driven by Valerie Edlemon, 66, was traveling north on U.S. 441 in the northbound lane. Tonya Macon, 49, and Jalen Edlemon, 14, were passengers in the Kia.

According to the FHP report, the Challenger changed lanes as the driver attempted to pass the semi. The southbound Challenger collided head-on with the northbound Kia in the northbound lane. As a result of the initial collision, the Kia was projected into the southbound lane, where subsequently the front of the semi also struck the front of the Kia, resulting in a second head-on collision, which projected the Kia in a southwestern direction.

Valerie J. Edlemon and Tonya L. Macon were pronounced dead at the scene. Jalen Edlemon was transported to Raulerson Hospital in Okeechobee, where he later died, according to the FHP report.

Michael Murph and Daniel Betancourt sustained minor injuries. Vernisha Murph was seriously injured, according to the FHP report. The three were transported to Raulerson Hospital.

The accident was investigated by Trooper J. Andrade, FHP crash investigator, and Trooper Corporal D. Roberts, FHP homicide investigator. The crash remains under investigation.

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