tampabay.com

Crash on I-75 kills 1 man, injures 4

Because of a language barrier and injuries, authorities do not know who was driving. The survivors all speak Spanish.

By DUANE BOURNE
Published May 3, 2005


RIDGE MANOR WEST - One man was killed and four were injured Sunday evening when their Ford Explorer flipped at least four times on Interstate 75, throwing all five passengers from the vehicle.

The Florida Highway Patrol was trying Monday to contact the relatives of the 27-year-old man who died, and his identity had not been released.

The investigation was complicated by the serious injuries sustained by the passengers and by a language barrier at the scene, authorities said. All of the men spoke Spanish.

The Explorer was traveling south on I-75, about two miles north of State Road 50, when the wreck occurred about 6:40 p.m., a Highway Patrol report stated.

The Explorer was traveling in the inside southbound lane when it crossed the road and went into the paved emergency lane on the right, according to the report. The driver overcorrected, causing the vehicle to overturn.

No other vehicles were involved in the crash.

"We are working on finding out who the driver was because they were all ejected, did not know who the driver was or were not able to talk because of their injuries," said Trooper Larry Coggins. "I guess the driver yanked the steering wheel back to the left and the vehicle overturned numerous times."

When paramedics arrived, they found the victims all lying in the grassy median.

Four of them - Jesus Humberto Urbina-Acosta, 23, Pedro Martinez, 26, Juan Martinez, 39, and Mateo Galinda-Cruz, 28 - were flown to St. Joseph's and Tampa General hospitals in Tampa, where they remained in serious but stable condition Monday.

The fifth man was pronounced dead at the scene.

Coggins said none of the men had a driver's license, and it was not known where they were traveling to or from. He said the patrol does not think the men live in the area. He said authorities hope to learn more once they interview the survivors.

"There are no more life-threatening injuries, but the nature is serious," Coggins said. "We are waiting until they recover to get them to talk about the accident."

--Duane Bourne can be reached at 352 754-6114 or dbourne@sptimes.com