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13-car pileup kills one woman

Authorities say a reckless driver caused a chain reaction that snarled SR 60 traffic for hours.

By S.I. ROSENBAUM AND ALEXANDRA ZAYAS
Published March 23, 2007


The scene of a multiple car accident on Brandon Blvd. East (SR 60) just east of the intersection with Mt. Carmel Ave. Thursday afternoon.
photo
[Times photo: Thomas M. Goethe]
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VALRICO - Brenda Hernandez watched disaster spin toward her. It happened so fast, she said.

Ahead of her, in the eastbound lane of State Road 60, a pickup truck suddenly swerved to the left, striking two more cars and throwing them over the median into the westbound lane.

One of the two cars hit a white truck, flipping it into the air. Another car careened into a dump truck, which crossed the median, heading for Hernandez.

She watched in horror as the dump truck landed on her hood.

Hernandez, her husband and their baby were fine. The sprawling chain reaction began at 2:43 p.m. When it was over, 13 vehicles had been damaged. Hillsborough County Sheriff's deputies said the pileup killed one person: 60-year-old Janice Clayton of 913 Birdie Way, Apollo Beach.

A preliminary investigation found that Brandie Voss, 34, 10414 Cone Grove Road, Riverview, the driver of a 2000 Dodge pickup, was recklessly cutting in and out of lanes on Highway 60 when she lost control and struck another vehicle, Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Debbie Carter said.

That caused a chain reaction that deputies are still trying to sort out. Charges for Voss are pending, Carter said.

Four cars and two pickup trucks, as well as the dump truck, were totaled. More cars suffered minor damage.

Four drivers were taken to Brandon Regional Hospital. Four others suffered cuts, Carter said.

Shoppers came out to the edge of the Home Depot and Wal-Mart parking lots, straining against the police tape to take pictures of the wrecked cars. A helicopter landed to take victims to the hospital.

For about half an hour, traffic on State Road 60 east was at a standstill. Finally, deputies allowed cars to make a U-turn over the median and go back the way they came. Even then, traffic crawled. By evening, a lane in each direction had been opened.

Dustin Ervin, 25, was one of three drivers - one of them a deputy in a cruiser - who got into a fender bender as a result of the crash.

They'd been waiting in the turn lane when the pickup went out of control, he said.

"Twenty seconds earlier, and we would have been dead," he said.

He said he overheard the driver of the truck telling a friend that she had been trying to change a CD when she lost control.

Authorities were still clearing the road at 9 p.m.

Alexandra Zayas can be reached at 813 226-3354 or azayas@sptimes.com.

[Last modified March 23, 2007, 00:55:08]


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