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Wrong-Way Crash in Orange County Kills Former UCF Football Player

By Orlando Personal Injury Attorney on December 21, 2022

A former University of Central Florida football player and NFL draft pick tragically lost his life over the weekend when he was involved in a wrong-way collision on State Road 417 in Orange County.

According to initial reports from troopers with the Florida Highway Patrol working within Orange County, it was close to 3:40 a.m. on Saturday, December 17, 2022, when 38-year-old Mike Merritt was driving a Ford Mustang in the southbound direction of S.R. 417 against the correct flow of traffic. As the former UCF tight end approached the vicinity of mile marker 36 in the northbound E-Pass lane, he crashed into an oncoming Honda Accord that was being driven by a 24-year-old man from Oviedo.

Immediately after this first auto accident, the Honda Accord was involved in another collision with a 40-year-old Palatka man who was behind the wheel of a Honda Odyssey minivan. As a result of the second crash, these two vehicles spun out across the highway and slammed into a concrete safety barrier near the center median.

Authorities with the Florida Highway Patrol and Orange County emergency services were dispatched to the scene of the three-vehicle crash shortly after being alerted by wrong-way driving detection devices that were recently installed along problematic roads & expressways around Orlando. The driver of the Honda Accord and the driver of the Honda Odyssey were both transported to a local hospital with serious, but non-life-threatening injuries.

The driver of the Ford Mustang, Mike Merritt, sustained severe injuries during the accident and was also taken to the hospital for further medical treatment. He was unable to survive the severity of his injuries and passed away shortly after arriving at the facility.

Mr. Merritt leaves behind a 1-year-old daughter and an 18-year-old son who is set to graduate in the spring. A GoFundMe account has been established by Mike Sims-Walker, a close family friend and former UCF teammate, to help with additional expenses.

Since 1977, Orlando personal injury lawyer James O. Cunningham has been compassionately representing the families who have lost a loved one during an auto accident. If you would like to schedule a free 30-minute case evaluation, please contact us today at 877-FL-INJURY.

James O. Cunningham

James O. CunninghamSince 1977, personal injury lawyer James Cunningham has provided effective legal advocacy to people who are injured through the negligent actions of another person or entity throughout the Central Florida area. He fights to obtain recoveries for his clients’ physical and emotional pain and suffering and pursues his clients’ personal injury cases with a commitment to excellence and impeccable preparation.

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