tampabay.com

Pickup plows deadly path

A car's driver is killed in the last of a series of crashes involving the out-of-control truck.

By CASEY CORA and MELANIE AVE, Times Staff Writers
Published December 5, 2007


TAMPA - Dozens of calls poured into police dispatchers about 6 a.m. Tuesday as a large white pickup barreled down Hillsborough Avenue, striking street signs and at least three cars before smashing into the back end of a small Toyota, killing the female driver, police said.

Tanya Leann Ellis, 22, of 158 Genesse St., and her fiance, Eugene Eichorn, 27, were on their way to work at Traffic Control Products at the time of the crash, Tampa police said.

Ellis died in the crash.

The pickup's driver, Wensley Belfoor, 49, of 119 Bush Lane, may have suffered some sort of medical episode and lost control, Tampa police spokeswoman Andrea Davis said.

Police later said Belfoor was found to have a suspended driver's license and was listed as a habitual traffic offender.

The truck belonged to Quality Roofing of Florida. Citing legal reasons, company owner Richard Jenkins refused to identify the driver, who was later identified by police, but said the man was a longtime employee and may have suffered diabetic shock while driving to the Tampa-based office in the morning.

"I'm very confident this is not drug- or alcohol-related," he said, describing the man as "a good guy."

The truck, a large Ford F-250, hit at least three cars at Lee Place, Central Avenue and 22nd Street before striking the Toyota at 30th Street. Police believe the Toyota was sitting at a red light.

The impact forced the truck's wide grill nearly into the front seat of the small two-door sedan. Both vehicles moved through the 30th Street intersection before stopping in the parking lot of a produce market.

No charges have been filed. The investigation is continuing.

Times staff writer Abbie VanSickle contributed to this report.