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Weekend road toll is deadly

By TAMARA EL-KHOURY
Published February 12, 2007


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TAMPA - A mother and child who died Sunday in a roll-over wreck on Interstate 75 brought to an end a horrendously lethal weekend on Tampa Bay's roads.

At least nine people died, including five in an eastern Hillsborough head-on crash near Bruce B. Downs Boulevard in Tampa (See stories page 1A).

In the I-75 crash, an 18-month-old and her teenage mother died in a single car accident.

Crystal Ann Nicholsen, 17, and the baby, Cadence Torres, died after the car they were traveling in hit a stand of trees off the shoulder of I-75.

The 1998 Mercedes sedan was driven by Crystal Ann Nicholsen's sister, 18-year-old Christa A. Nicholsen, 18, of Clearwater, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

Also in the car were the baby's father, Anibal Elisha Torres, 21, and Joseph Ortiz, according to the FHP accident report.

The accident happened at 3:55 p.m. after the southbound car drifted onto the west shoulder of the interstate, went out of control and spun counterclockwise.

The right side of the car hit a stand of trees and both Crystal Ann Nicholsen and the baby were thrown from the car.

They were pronounced dead at the scene.

Christa Nicholsen was taken to Tampa General Hospital, while Torres and Ortiz were taken to St. Joseph's Hospital. They did not have life threatening injuries, authorities said.

The FHP did not report Sunday night what may have caused the accident.

Charges are pending, according to an accident report.

FHP spokesman Trooper Larry Coggins said every fatality the FHP worked over the weekend was caused by driver error.

He said this was a "very deadly weekend that I hope will wake drivers up."

INVERNESS

Motorcyclist dies after collision with truck

A Deltona man died after losing control of his motorcycle, Sunday afternoon, and colliding with an oncoming truck.

Kevin O'Neill, 32, was driving west on East Gobbler Court at about 12:30 p.m. when he lost control of his motorcycle, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. He missed a curve, crossing the eastbound lane and rolling into the path of a Ford truck driven by Harold Weatherly, 50, of Floral City.

O'Neill hit the front of the truck and both vehicles came to a final rest on the south shoulder. Weatherly was uninjured, according to the FHP.

GIBSONTON

Senior killed when car is hit making U-turn

An 83-year-old Riverview woman died Sunday morning and her husband hospitalized after they attempted to make a U-turn and were hit by an oncoming car, Sunday morning.

Vertis Ryan died at the scene, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. Her husband, William Ryan, 85, was airlifted to Tampa General Hospital and is listed in fair condition.

The accident happened at Gibsonton Drive and Kenda Drive at 11:20 a.m.

According Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Debbie Carter, William Ryan was driving west on Gibsonton Drive in a Ford Taurus.

He was making a U-turn when the car was hit on the passenger's side by an eastbound 2006 Nissan driven by Roger Yeager, 37, of Gibsonton.

Yeager was treated and released from Tampa General Hospital and taken into custody, Carter said. He is charged with vehicular homicide, willful and wanton reckless driving with serious bodily injury and racing on the highway.

His bail was set at $10,000.

[Last modified February 12, 2007, 05:59:09]


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