Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hit and run on I-4 in Plant City leaves two dead

PLANT CITY — State troopers are searching for a driver who left the scene of a crash that left two dead on Interstate 4 early Wednesday, officials said.

The crash happened at about 6:10 a.m. on the westbound side of I-4 near Alexander Street, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

At that time, an unknown vehicle "aggressively" cut off a sport utility vehicle, causing driver Michael Anthony Bennett, 36, to lose control of the SUV in trying to avoid a crash, troopers said.

Bennett, who was with wife Letara Tenell Bennett, 32, steered into the emergency lane then over-corrected to the right, troopers said. The SUV then collided with a truck, driven by Carlos Manuel Santos, 44, of Kissimmee.

That crash sent the SUV back toward the median, where it flipped, ejecting the couple.

Michael Bennett was thrown over the median bridge wall and slid down the embankment to Alexander Street before emergency responders arrived. Letara Bennett landed on the highway.

Michael Bennett was rushed to South Florida Baptist Hospital in Plant City while Letara Bennett was taken to Tampa General.

Both died. Neither was wearing a seat belt, officials said.

Santos stopped his truck in the outside lane to wait for help. He was uninjured in the crash.

Investigators are still looking for the unknown vehicle, described as a dark-colored compact, involved in the crash.

Several lanes of westbound I-4 were blocked for three hours as troopers investigated and cleared the road. FHP reopened the lanes just before 9:30 a.m.

The FHP has asked witnesses to call them at (813) 631-4020.

Marissa Lang can be reached at or (813) 226-3386.

Hit and run on I-4 in Plant City leaves two dead 05/02/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 2, 2012 11:26pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. No toll lanes north of downtown Tampa in three of four interstate proposals


    TAMPA — Express lanes may not be coming to downtown Tampa after all. Or at least not to the stretch of Interstate 275 that goes north through Bearss Avenue.

    Seminole Heights resident Kimberly Overman discusses the new interstate options with V.M. Ybor resident Chris Vela (left), Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp and HNTB consultant Chloe Coney during a Tampa Bay Express meeting Monday night at the Barrymore Hotel. [CAITLIN JOHNSTON  |  Times]
  2. Pinellas grants St. Pete's request to add millions to pier budget

    Local Government

    Times Staff Writer

    The Pinellas County Commission has granted St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman's request to dedicate millions more toward the city's new pier.

    The St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday  voted 7-1 to appropriate $17.6 million for the over-water portion of the Pier District. This is a rendering of what the new Pier District could look like. [Courtesy of St. Petersburg]
  3. Man injured when small helicopter crashes into Odessa home


    ODESSA — A small manned helicopter crashed into the roof of a house in northwest Hillsborough County on Monday, injuring a pilot, officials said.

    Rescuers respond to a crash of a small helicopter on the roof of a home in the Odessa area on Monday. [Hillsborough County Fire Rescue]
  4. State investigation cites multiple failures in death of Largo child


    LARGO — It was sweltering in the bedroom of the Largo mobile home the day a child welfare case manager visited in July.

    Liz Rutenbeck, 24, poses with her son William in a Facebook photo. Baby William Hendrickson IV died while his mother was in jail after police said his father left ihim in a sweltering room.  A state investigation into the boy's death found multiple failures on the part of the child welfare system.
  5. 'Siesta Key' star punched in face, not sure who did it


    TAMPA —Alex Kompothecras, cast member on MTV's reality show "Siesta Key," tells police he was punched in the face outside a bar in Tampa's SoHo district.

    Alex Kompothecras, Juliette Porter, Pauly Apostolides, Madisson Hausburg, Chloe Trautman, Garrett Miller, Kelsey Owens and Brandon Gomes pose for a photo in Siesta Key in June before the debut of the MTV reality series Siesta Key. [
EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]