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Passenger dies following fiery two-car crash

By Staff | Apr 15, 2016

Two drivers involved in a recent fatal accident were reportedly both under the influence.

Michael John Getts, 35, of 109 Little Grove Lane, North Fort Myers, and Francis George Paulette III, 19, of 4520 Vinsetta Ave., North Fort Myers, had alcohol in their systems during the Sunday crash.

A report states that Getts had a blood alcohol content of 0.209 and Paulette had a BAC of 0.203.

In the state of Florida, a blood alcohol concentration level of .08 or greater is considered impaired.

According to the Cape Coral police, Getts was driving a Kia eastbound along Northeast Pine Island Road in the outside lane when he abruptly changed lanes at 11:12 p.m. in the 2400 block. When Getts changed lanes, he collided into a Chevrolet van also headed eastbound and being driven by Paulette.

The left front section of the Kia struck the passenger side of the Chevy. The impact redirected the vehicles and both drove off the road. The Kia entered and then exited a ditch, where the driver’s front side hit a tree and came to a rest. The Chevy rolled over, entered the ditch and stopped on its roof.

According to police, a witness was able to stop and remove Paulette and the sole passenger in the Kia from those vehicles, but Getts was pinned inside his. Both vehicles then caught on fire separately.

The Cape Coral Fire Department arrived on scene and crews were able to extricate Getts.

All three involved were trauma-alerted to Lee Memorial Hospital with life-threatening injuries.

At 8:33 p.m. Tuesday, the sole passenger in Getts’ vehicle – Lonnie William Retherford, 36, of Lake Wales – died at the hospital from the injuries that he sustained in the accident, officials reported.

“Due to the death, this case is now classified as a DUI manslaughter investigation,” Detective Nicholas Malone, a spokesman for the Cape Coral Police Department, reported via a prepared statement.

As of Thursday, both Getts and Paulette remained in critical condition at the hospital.