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    6-car collision kills 1, injures 2

    By LINDA GIBSON

    © St. Petersburg Times, published April 7, 2001


    TAMPA -- One person was killed and two critically injured Friday when the driver of a sport utility vehicle lost control at N Dale Mabry Highway near Fletcher Avenue and triggered a six-car accident.

    A passenger in the black Chevrolet SUV died at the scene, and the driver was flown to St. Joseph's Hospital in critical condition. The driver of another car, a red Honda Civic, also was flown to St. Joseph's in critical condition.

    Their names were not available Friday night.

    The SUV, traveling south on Dale Mabry at about 6 p.m., came up on traffic stopped at the light at Fletcher, said traffic homicide investigator John Duran of the Hillsborough Sheriff's Office. It swerved right and hit a green station wagon, then jerked to the left so hard it went spinning into oncoming traffic in the northbound lanes.

    Two cars traveling north on Dale Mabry hit the spinning SUV. The second hit sent it airborne.

    It landed on its side in the northbound lanes and was hit by the red Honda Civic.

    The accident happened across from Hillsborough Fire/Rescue Station 19. Capt. Anthony Rodriguez, standing in the station's driveway, heard tires screeching and turned in time to see the SUV spinning through the air.

    "I just saw cars flying," he said. "They looked like toys."

    The crew of Station 19 immediately parked a 35-foot fire truck across the northbound lanes to block traffic. Rodriguez called dispatch and requested three fire engines, three ambulances and two helicopters to fly the critically wounded.

    The northbound lanes of Dale Mabry north of Fletcher were closed to traffic from just after 6 p.m. to past 10 p.m. Customers of restaurants and stores along Dale Mabry came out to view the wreck scene: crushed cars, broken glass and a body covered by a white cloth.

    The drivers of two cars had minor injuries and drove themselves to hospitals to be treated, Duran said.

    It was too early to say whether anyone would be charged in the crash, Duran said.

    - Linda Gibson can be reached at (813) 226-3382 or at gibson@sptimes.com.

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