TAMPA — Police were still trying to determine Friday what sparked a scuffle at a bar that ended in a fatal traffic crash, killing one woman.
Officers were called to the Interstate Lounge at 9403 Nebraska Ave. about 2:30 a.m. when two women got into a fight.
When Tampa police arrived, the women were gone. Witnesses told the officers one woman left in a 2002 white Pontiac Grand Am.
Moments later, one of the officers spotted the Grand Am, driven by Kathleen Trombley, as it attempted to crash into two men who were walking on the sidewalk at 5202 N Nebraska Ave., police said. A man inside the car, identified as Patrick V. Simmons, yelled at the men.
One man jumped out of the way, but the other was knocked to the ground. The car then made a U-turn, but the officer followed it south on Nebraska Avenue.
Trombley ran a red light at Busch Boulevard, police said. She turned off her headlights and sped down the road, eventually losing control of the car and slamming into a pole south of Hillsborough Avenue, said Tampa police spokeswoman Laura McElroy.
The impact tossed Trombley out of the Pontiac. She died at the scene, McElroy said.
Simmons, 38, of Tampa, was taken to Tampa General Hospital with what appeared to be a broken leg.
The two pedestrians, whom police could not identify because they left the scene, were not hurt.
As detectives continued to interview witnesses Friday, Trombley's family mourned.
Trombley, the mother of three children, moved to Brooksville from Bath, N.Y., about a year ago, family members said.
"She couldn't make it up there," said Robert Garcia, her uncle. "So she came down to Florida looking for better prospects."
At first, Trombley landed a job as a waitress and saved enough money to buy her Pontiac. But then she and her boyfriend broke up. She lost her job.
Garcia let her stay in an RV he owns while she found another job. On Thursday afternoon, Trombley had told Garcia she had a couple of job interviews lined up. Her kids were staying with family in New York, but Trombley hoped to be reunited with them once she was settled, Garcia said.
Simmons has been arrested about 20 times, including on drug and disorderly conduct charges, state records show. He was released from state prison in September 2011 after serving less than a year on a cocaine possession conviction.
In Florida, Trombley does not have a criminal record.
"She was very beautiful," said Timothy Markland, her stepfather. "I can't believe this is happening."
Laura C. Morel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813)226-3386.