CHARLOTTE HARBOR — The Punta Gorda woman who died after a head-on crash on Sunday afternoon was allegedly driving a stolen car, according to the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office.
Authorities said Kelly Jean DeRego, 49, of the 25100 block of Airport Road, Punta Gorda, had stolen the 1999 Honda Accord she was driving along with a debit card from a Deep Creek woman earlier in the day.
The 61-year-old theft victim told detectives that DeRego, who worked as her part-time caretaker, said she was going to run some errands while the woman took a nap. When she awoke, she saw her keys were missing along with her debit card.
Authorities learned the debit card was used at seven locations at various ATM machines to withdraw $564.98 in cash.
Around 2:40 p.m., DeRego was driving in the eastbound lane of Harborview Road near Laverne Street in Charlotte Harbor when she reportedly veered into the westbound lane and collided head-on with a Dodge Caravan driven by Michelle Saunders of Deep Creek, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. DeRego was taken to Peace River Regional Medical Center, where she died from her injuries. Saunders was treated at Fawcett Memorial Hospital and released.
The victim reported her car and card stolen Sunday evening, not knowing DeRego had been killed in her car, according to the report.
At the hospital, DeRego’s sister found the victim’s debit card in DeRego’s purse and gave it to authorities, a report stated.