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Girl, 18 months, critically injured, eight hospitalized in crash on Courtney Campbell

CLEARWATER — An 18-month-old girl was critically injured and seven others, including a 3-year-old, were hospitalized following a chain-reaction crash around 6:50 p.m. Sunday on the Courtney Campbell Causeway, emergency officials said.

Julie Gough, the 23-year-old driver who caused the crashed, told police she briefly took her eyes off the road after dropping a bottle of Gatorade on the floor of her 2003 Honda CRV. She told officials it was too late to stop once she looked up and saw cars ahead of her stopped at a red light at Damascus Road.

The CRV slammed into the rear of a 2007 Honda Odyssey, which was then pushed into a 2013 Nissan Altima, which then struck a 1975 Buick LeSabre, officials said.

A woman and two children were taken to Tampa General Hospital, officials said, where the unidentified 3-year-old is in stable condition and the 18-month-old, Gabriela Alvarez, is listed in critical condition.

Two women and a man were transported to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg, while two others — including Gough — were transported to Mease Countryside Hospital.

The crash shut down all westbound traffic on the causeway for nearly six hours. It reopened Monday morning just after midnight, officials said.

Stay with tampabay.com for updates.

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