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License questions raised in Tampa crash that killed 18-year-old woman

Eileen Yancey, Na’Quan’s mother, talks to reporters. Her son was in critical condition at Tampa General Hospital on Thursday.

WILLIE J. ALLEN JR. | Times

Eileen Yancey, Na’Quan’s mother, talks to reporters. Her son was in critical condition at Tampa General Hospital on Thursday.

TAMPA — She was supposed to be the messenger. But she was crying too hard to speak.

Eileen Yancey came to tell Lori Yount that their sons, along with three friends, had just been in a horrific car crash.

When the mothers got to the scene, their sons were already headed to the hospital.

Left behind was only the twisted metal of a sport utility vehicle and a car.

"I didn't get out of the car," Yount said. "It was horrible, just all mangled."

The two vehicles collided Wednesday night near Interstate 4 and Columbus Drive in Tampa, leaving an 18-year-old woman dead and three other passengers hospitalized with critical injuries.

Neither of the drivers should have been on the road that night.

One driver, Randolph De Sylvia, 19, did not even have a license, Tampa police said.

The other, Chaz Yount, 20, had only a learner's permit, police said, but a carload of teenagers.

The teenagers, riding in a 1999 Toyota Solara, were broadsided by De Sylvia in a Mazda CX-9 SUV after they exited I-4. The Solara was sent rolling into a ditch, trapping the passengers inside until Tampa Fire Rescue cut them out.

At 9:26 p.m. Wednesday, Alicia Dawn Shaheed, who was in the back seat of the Solara, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Yancey and Yount's children survived the collision.

Chaz Yount of St. Petersburg was uninjured. But his friend, NaQuan Yancey, 17, also of St. Petersburg, who was in the Solara's front passenger seat, was taken to Tampa General Hospital with life-threatening injuries.

Thursday, Yancey remained at the hospital in critical condition.

Chaz Yount's girlfriend, 20-year-old Kalima Haneef of St. Petersburg, sat in the back seat with her two cousins who were visiting from West Virginia: Shontae Shaheed, 19, and her sister Alicia.

Haneef and Shontae Shaheed were both taken to the hospital with critical injuries.

By Thursday, Haneef and Shontae Shaheed were in fair condition, hospital officials said.

De Sylvia, the driver of the SUV, was treated for minor injuries at St. Joseph's Hospital, police said.

Police haven't yet determined who caused the crash. Multiple witnesses reported conflicting versions of the collision, police said. One witness told police the SUV ran a red light, which was also reported by the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner's Office. Everyone involved was wearing a seat belt, police said.

Less than a week before the crash, Hillsborough County deputies arrested De Sylvia, who lives in Tampa, and charged him with driving without a license.

De Sylvia's mother declined to talk about the crash, and De Sylvia could not be reached.

Police said Yount has a Florida learner's permit. But to drive with such a permit, a licensed driver age 21 or older must ride in the front passenger seat. His front-seat passenger that night was only 17.

Lori Yount said her son has had a driver's license for years. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, though, has no record of Yount ever having a Florida driver's license or learner's permit, spokeswoman Ann Howard said.

Police are reconstructing the crash scene and studying the timing of traffic lights to determine who — or what — caused the collision. No charges have been filed.

Eileen Yancey, who spent most of Thursday praying for her son and his friends at the hospital, said drivers should learn from the mistakes of others.

"Kids who don't have a license, don't drive a car," she said.

Her son will be a senior this fall at St. Petersburg High.

"He's a great kid," said Joe Fabrizio, the school's head football coach. "He does pretty well in school."

Fabrizio said Yancey has been a running back on the team for the past two years.

He called Yancey a popular but quiet kid with a sarcastic sense of humor.

He planned to break the news about the crash to the team at Thursday's evening practice.

"We're all holding our breath," he said.

So were the parents, who gathered in the hospital Thursday.

Lori Yount and Eileen Yancey spent the day there with Haneef's mother, Roasheedah Haneef.

Yount said the Shaheeds had caught a plane to Tampa from West Virginia on Thursday.

"We're all so shook up," Yount said. "Those are our babies."

Times researcher John Martin and staff writer Kameel Stanley contributed to this report. Marissa Lang can be reached at mlang@sptimes.com. Eric P. Newcomer can be reached at enewcomer@sptimes.

License questions raised in Tampa crash that killed 18-year-old woman 06/30/11 [Last modified: Friday, July 1, 2011 12:11am]
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[The New York Times file photo]