Men involved in crash identified
By BRADY DENNIS, Times Staff Writer
WESLEY CHAPEL -- Florida Highway Patrol troopers on Monday identified the young man who died -- and the three others who were injured -- in a crash along Interstate 75 Sunday afternoon.
Jamesson Lopes Freitas, 21, of Gainesville died after the 1993 Ford Escort he was driving nearly folded in half after skidding off the highway and slamming broadside into a tree.
The right front passenger of the car, 18-year-old Damon Antunes, whose address was not listed, remained in critical condition Monday at St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa.
The car's other two passengers, Balarama Almeida, 17, of Gainesville and Marc Antoin, 20, of Alachua, also suffered injuries in the crash, though they were not believed to be life-threatening.
Almeida was treated at Joseph's and released Sunday. Hospital officials had no record of Antoin ever being admitted.
The wreck happened about 2:30 p.m. Sunday after Freitas lost control of the car about 120 yards beyond a rest area, just north of where I-75 and I-275 meet.
FHP Sgt. William Bishop said the four were heading north on I-75, speeding and swerving in and out of lanes.
The car slid down an embankment, shearing off a metal stake with a reflector on the top of it. It then slammed into a 5-inch-wide tree on the driver's side with such force that the tree ended up in the console of the car.
The driver's door was touching the passenger door behind it.
Pasco County Fire Rescue paramedics said they were able to get three of the passengers out of the car easily. They had to cut Freitas out of the car.
Troopers on Monday said alcohol did not play a role in the accident. They said Antoin and Almeida were wearing their seat belts.
But troopers said, because of the wreckage, it was unclear whether Freitas and Antunes were wearing theirs.
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