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Oldsmar woman killed in accident; driver flees

TAMPA — A Pontiac Firebird lost control on Interstate 275 and collided with a guardrail, ejecting one passenger and killing a 31-year-old woman early Sunday.

The 1998 sportscar was heading southbound on I-275 just after 3 a.m. when it lost control in the outside center travel lane near the Howard Avenue exit and began rotating, Florida Highway Patrol officials said. The car continued rotating toward the southwest and collided with the steel guardrail, vaulting the car into the inside lane where it continued to spin and ejected a passenger.

Leticia Benitez-Gutierrez of Oldsmar, the car's owner and front seat passenger, died at Tampa General Hospital, state troopers said in a statement.

Other passengers, whose names weren't released, were treated at either Tampa General Hospital or St. Joseph's Hospital for injuries.

The driver, Manuel Barron Rosas, 27, of Largo, was identified at the scene of the crash by passengers before he fled, FHP officials said. He suffered minor injuries, state troopers said.

Investigators did not know Sunday what caused the vehicle to lose control. The crash remains under investigation.

Justin George can be reached at (813) 226-3368 or jgeorge@sptimes.com.

Oldsmar woman killed in accident; driver flees 02/28/10 [Last modified: Sunday, February 28, 2010 11:42am]
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