tampabay.com

Driver in fatal accident recalls gruesome details from I-4

Apparently, his vehicle was one of five that hit a man, whose name has not been released.

By CASEY CORA, Times Staff Writer
Published August 10, 2007


TAMPA - Alexander Rascionato was driving home from work in a pouring rain Tuesday night when he felt something hit the side mirror of his maroon Ford Taurus.

He knew it must have been something big, he said, so he pulled over to the median, backed up 50 or 100 yards, parked, and walked out into the storm.

He made a grim discovery.

Rascionato said he saw a man in dark, wet clothes on the pavement of Interstate 4, with body parts strewn across the road.

"I got within 10 feet and I could see he was dead," he said. "At that point, we stopped traffic."

Witnesses told him the man had been struck once in the center lane, then spun around into the inside lane, where Rascionato clipped him with the mirror.

"He didn't touch the rest of the car," Rascionato, 33, said on Thursday.

Rascionato, a Geico insurance salesman who lives in Tampa, said he had been traveling in the left lane doing 45 or 50 mph. Witnesses told him that after his Taurus struck the body, other cars ran over the man, dragging him underneath a car for a short time.

In all, the Florida Highway Patrol believes five vehicles struck the man.

"He was hit pretty hard, dead center it looked like, and dragged down the interstate. None of those people stopped from what I can see," Rascionato said.

Highway Patrol Trooper Larry Coggins said the agency has had trouble finding family of the victim, so his name has not been made public.

He is described as a bald, 49-year-old white man of Hispanic descent. Coggins said investigators have found Brandon and Tampa addresses for him, but no relatives at either place.

The man has been arrested numerous times in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties, he said, and tends to list "transient" as his address.

Witnesses to the crash - a couple tending to their broken-down truck nearby before the accident - told Rascionato that the man said he approached them for a ride, and told them he had just been let out of jail or prison and was trying to get home to see his family in Brandon.

When that couple told him no, the man kept going down the road.

"There was nothing I could do," Rascionato said. "I feel bad for him and his family."

Times staff writer Michael Mohammed contributed to this report.