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Jesse Purdon


Jesse Purdon involved in serious Interstate-75 crash

Crash happened at same interstate interchange as another candidate-involved crash in December.

A Bonita Springs candidate for state House was involved in a crash that left one woman potentially fatally injured.

Republican Jesse Purdon, a former congressional staffer running in Florida House District 76, was involved in the crash Wednesday evening.

The Florida Highway Patrol said the wreck occurred after Ana Maria Arce Valdes was stopped on the overpass over Alico Road. Her Lincoln Town Car had its flashers on and was behind a disabled Versa driven by Yadira Sanchez. A Jeep Wrangler driven by Purdon then struck the Lincoln, which hit the Versa, as first reported by the News-Press.

All three vehicles were headed south on Interstate-75.

Purdon was leaving a Young Republicans event at Bell Tower Shops, according to a Republican source.

An initial FHP report said the crash is not alcohol-related. It also said both Valdes’ Lincoln and Sanchez’s Versa caught fire in the crash.

Witnesses say one of the women suffered severe burns in the crash.

Two vehicles in the crash caught fire in the crash.

Valdes was transported to Lee Memorial Hospital in critical condition, the newspaper reports. Authorities confirm she is still alive, but unlikely to recover.

Purdon was uninjured and suffered only a couple bumps and bruises, along with a couple burns. Patrolman ticketed Purdon for rear-ending the Lincoln, which had its blinkers on.

He said in a statement, “You may have seen or heard that I was in a bad accident on 75 last night. Thank you for your calls and support. Join me in sending prayers for everyone involved.”

The same interstate exit was also the site of a fatal car crash involving a former candidate in the same House race.

Peter Cuderman on Dec. 30 was in a crash that left Matthew Paul Clark dead. Cuderman had raised more than $20,000 toward the race but dropped out in April.

That crash happened on the ramp from Alico Road onto Interstate-75. Clark had gotten out of a parked pickup truck pulling a trailer, according to FHP. Cuderman’s vehicle struck a trailer, which then swung into Clark.

Purdon right now faces fellow Republicans Jason Maughan and Adam Botana in the race to succeed state Rep. Ray Rodrigues in the House.9-25-19 UPDATE

Written By

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at

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