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Tuesday, Apr 24, 2018
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Two girls killed in crash, third injured in Polk

AUBURNDALE — Two 10-year-old girls were killed Sunday night after the car they were riding in collided with a pickup that deputies said apparently ran a red light.

Linda Hood Mercer, 60, was driving a Volkswagen Beetle south on Havendale Boulevard about 6:30 p.m. and was struck by a westbound pickup at New Jersey Road, deputies said.

A preliminary investigation showed that the 2006 Dodge Ram truck, driven by Leighton Shane Hopper, of Winter Haven, ran a red light, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office said.

There were four girls in Mercer’s car. Three in the back seat were not wearing seat belts, including the two girls who died, police said. The third girl was airlifted to Tampa General Hospital with critical injuries.

The other girl was in the front passenger seat and wore her seat belt. She wasn’t injured.

Mercer was wearing a seat belt and was in serious condition at Lakeland Regional Medical Center, the sheriff’s office said.

Hopper was wearing a seat belt and was hospitalized with minor injuries, deputies said.

The sheriff’s office said charges are pending.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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