COLLIER COUNTY —
Christopher Shubert was supposed to be celebrating the six-month anniversary of his wedding this weekend.
Instead, his family and those of two other Naples-area residents are trying to piece together what happened late Tuesday, when a Golden Gate Estates crash took the three men’s lives.
Shubert, 31, was driving a Lincoln MKX sport utility vehicle west near Immokalee Road and Everglades Boulevard around 11:45 p.m., according to a Florida Highway Patrol report. At the same time, a Honda Crosstour SUV driven by Noophan Saneydee, 47, a North Naples resident, was traveling east, crossed the center line and slammed head-on into the Lincoln.
A 35-year-old male passenger in the Honda, whose name has not been released by the FHP, was transported to Lee Memorial Hospital where he died of his injuries.
One of the vehicles caught fire, but the FHP could not confirm which one.
At the time of his death, Shubert was days away from the half-year milestone with wife Hilda.
The couple met on a cruise and fell in love quickly, Shubert’s brother-in-law Luis Mendoza said Wednesday.
Shubert moved from Boynton Beach and the couple bought a home last spring near Hilda’s family in Golden Gate. In November, they married at St. Agnes Catholic Church in Golden Gate Estates.
Mendoza, who was noticeably shaken, only said of his sister: “She’s devastated.”
At the same time, staff at two Sushi Thai restaurants were short on information about what happened to their colleagues, the two men in the Honda Crossover. They identified Saneydee and his passenger, both immigrants from Thailand, as chefs at the local restaurants.
Saneydee had worked at Sushi Thai for about five years and had a wife and three daughters in Thailand, colleagues said.
His passenger began working as a chef for Sushi Thai within the last year. Colleagues could not provide more personal information about him, and attempts to reach Sushi Thai management for comment Wednesday were unsuccessful.
In the last five years, two people have died on the same stretch of road as Tuesday night’s crash, according to the Collier County Sheriff’s Office.
Most recently, a 41-year-old motorcyclist was killed there in January 2011 after crossing Immokalee Road’s center line and hitting the driver’s side door of a pickup, one of 36 traffic deaths in Collier County last year.
The Immokalee Road and Everglades Boulevard intersection is not known to the Sheriff’s Office as being notoriously dangerous for motorists, agency spokeswoman Karie Partington said. A 2010 analysis of crash data at 43 Collier intersections conducted by the Daily News ranked it 43rd, with about three crashes per year.
Looking at a larger stretch of Immokalee Road from Oil Well Road to Everglades Boulevard, which includes Tuesday’s crash site, there were 27 crashes in 2011, the same as in 2007 despite a spike to 50 in 2009, according to data from the Sheriff’s Office.
Road and weather conditions in Tuesday’s crash, as well as speed, are being evaluated as part of the ongoing investigation to “try to piece this thing back together,” FHP spokesman Lt. Chris Miller said. All three men were wearing seat belts.
It is unclear if alcohol was a factor in the crash, and tests are pending, the FHP reported.