HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS – Two people died in a seven-vehicle accident on the Florida Turnpike Sunday afternoon.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the accident occurred at mile marker 290, about 5 miles south of Leesburg and just north of the Turnpike's intersection with U.S. Highway 27.
The two dead are a 20-year old woman and a 19-year old man, who were in a car that was rear-ended by another. They were identified Monday afternoon as Valentina Martinez, 20, and Antonio Mesa, 18, both of Weston in Broward County
Marrtinez died at the hospital, and Mesa died at the scene.
There were a total of 17 patients treated for injuries, and nine were transported to various area hospitals.
Highway Patrol investigators say seven vehicles were involved in the crash. It occurred when the vehicles slowed and then stopped for traffic ahead. For some reason, the last vehicle in the line did not stop and struck the back of the car in which Martinez and Mesa were passengers, pushing their car into the one in front of it and setting off a chain reaction.
The driver of the car that reportedly initiated the chain reaction, Bilal Ead, 32, of Windermere, was seriously injured.
Northbound traffic was diverted to U.S. 27 for hours Sunday evening.
The crash is under investigation.