A semi sent a pickup off the road — the first fatal crash this year in the Keys, FHP says

A Miami man died in a Florida Keys car crash Monday night, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

Lt. Kathleen McKinney, FHP sub-district commander for the Keys, said the crash was the first highway fatality of the year along the island chain. In 2022, the troopers investigated 10 fatal crashes in the Keys, McKinney said.

According to the FHP’s report, the driver of a 1995 GMC Sonoma pickup truck was traveling north on U.S. 1 in the Upper Keys area of Tavernier around 6:35 p.m. when a 2018 Freightliner tractor trailer also heading north “came into contact with” the left back end of the pickup truck “for unknown reasons.”

The GMC then drove off the road, hitting a traffic sign and a pole before going through a fence and hitting a wall, according to the FHP’s report. Investigators say the initial impact to the car once it left the the road was to the driver’s side.

The GMC came to a stop in the parking lot of an elementary school on Grouper Lane, which runs parallel to U.S. 1, troopers said.

The Florida Highway Patrol refuses to release the names of people involved in highway crashes, citing Marsy’s law, which was enacted to protect crime victims’ privacy. The Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office identified the driver of the GMC as 27-year-old Jhony Abel Rodriguez.

Rodriguez’s family could not be reached for comment. A 29-year-old man who was in the passenger seat was not injured, troopers said. The 29-year-old driver of the semi was also not hurt, according to the FHP report.

Rodriguez was wearing a seat belt, the report stated. FHP said charges are pending in the crash following an investigation.