Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Public safety

Five killed in two crashes Sunday on Pasco roads

Josh Brock didn't have much about himself posted on Facebook. Just albums packed with photos of his son, Jason — as a newborn at the hospital, as a baby at home, as a toddler gawking at fish in a giant aquarium.

Those photos now preserve the memory of two lives cut tragically short.

Brock, 22, and his 18-month-old son were among the five people killed in two separate fiery crashes Sunday night, one of the deadliest few hours on Pasco County roads in recent memory.

The young father and son were driving north on U.S. 98 in Trilby about 10 p.m. when Brock crossed the center line "for unknown reasons" into oncoming traffic, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. His Oldsmobile collided head-on with a semitrailer truck, which skidded across the highway, slowed to a stop on the shoulder and burst into flames, troopers said.

Brock and his son died at the scene. So did the truck driver, Leslie C. Blanton, 56, of Riverview. Her husband, Michael W. Blanton, 53, suffered minor injuries and was not hospitalized.

Efforts to reach their family members Monday were unsuccessful.

That crash came less than an hour and a half after a collision in Hudson killed two people.

Albert Friedman, 81, of Hudson was driving north on U.S. 19 near Denton Avenue about 8:40 p.m. His Volkswagen swerved from the center lane into the right lane, hitting the back of a Saturn sedan, the FHP said. The cars rotated, overturned and slammed into a light pole, troopers said.

The crash killed both people in the Saturn: driver Brigette Ewing, 44, of Spring Hill, and passenger Vincent F. DiCristo, 44, of Port Richey.

Friedman was taken to Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point with serious injuries. Troopers said Friedman was under the influence of alcohol. Charges are pending.

Ewing's husband and two daughters gathered Monday at her home in Spring Hill, trying to make sense of what had occurred, still clearly shocked.

A native of New York, Ewing lived with her husband Frank DeRosa and their two teenage children in a tidy, salmon-colored ranch home on Monterey Street. She has another son, Jack, from a previous marriage who is in his early 20s.

DeRosa, 51, and Ewing were together for about 25 years, 20 of them as husband and wife. The couple moved to Spring Hill about 15 years ago.

"She was a good mother," said DeRosa as he stood in his foyer with son Frankie, 14, and daughter Lucy, 16. Both teens attend Nature Coast Technical High School, south of Brooksville.

Ewing most recently worked for a company that sells timeshares until she was laid off, her family said. She loved to travel, and over the years had visited Hawaii, Europe and cruised the Caribbean several times.

"She always helped me when I had problems," Lucy DeRosa said.

Mr. DeRosa described DiCristo as a friend of Ewing's. The family said they weren't sure where they were coming from when the crash happened but said Ewing has an uncle who lives in the Port Richey area.

Frankie DeRosa choked back tears as he recalled his mother.

"I loved her to death," he said. A moment later, his father shut the door.

Mary Kenney can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6247.

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