Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

One dead, four injured in wrong-way Interstate 275 crash near Sunshine Skyway

A fatal crash closed the southbound lanes of Interstate 275 near 58th Avenue S in St. Petersburg on Monday morning.

CHERIE DIEZ | Times

A fatal crash closed the southbound lanes of Interstate 275 near 58th Avenue S in St. Petersburg on Monday morning.

ST. PETERSBURG — The first call came in at 6:25 a.m.

"Hey, has anyone told you about a wrong-way driver?" the caller asked a Florida Highway Patrol dispatcher.

Less than 20 seconds later, another driver reported seeing a car heading north on the southbound lanes of Interstate 275 near the Sunshine Skyway bridge.

A trooper headed out to investigate. But moments later, more calls came in: The Pontiac heading the wrong way slammed into a white van just before the Dick Misener Bridge span, near the 58th Avenue S overpass.

Sandra R. Weems, the driver of the Pontiac, was killed. The van's driver and three passengers were injured. The southbound lanes were shut down, snarling traffic for hours.

"It happened really, really quick," said Florida Highway Patrol spokesman Sgt. Steve Gaskins.

Four workers from Tab Glass & Window Corp. were headed to Venice on Monday morning on a work assignment in a company van when David C. Davis, the driver, noticed the Pontiac barreling up the highway, troopers said.

He tried to steer the van out of its way, but couldn't avoid the collision.

Davis, 44, of Palm Harbor and a passenger, Fehim Dapo, 50, of St. Petersburg, sustained minor injuries. Two others, Vincent Edward Ortiz, 38, of Tampa and Dragan Radak, 40, of St. Petersburg, were listed in serious condition Monday afternoon.

All four were taken to Bayfront Medical Center. Davis and Dapo were released hours later, but could not be reached for comment Monday.

Co-workers visited the men at the hospital Monday morning. Among them was Kristin Thomas, vice president of operations. The business has about 50 employees.

"They are four of our most hardest-working employees," Thomas said. "It's a big loss and time loss, and we're worried for them and their families."

Weems, 58, died at the scene.

It was unclear Monday whether she was intoxicated during the crash.

In Florida, Weems has a lengthy criminal record dating back to the 1970s that includes about 50 arrests, including prostitution, theft and drug possession, and nearly a dozen stints in state prison, records show.

She was last released in October 2008 after spending more than a year in state prison on drug-related charges, records show.

The crash remained under investigation Monday as troopers tried to determine how and when Weems entered the southbound lanes.

Because of the lack of witnesses and surveillance video, Gaskins said, those questions may never be answered.

Times staff researcher John Martin and staff writer Kameel Stanley contributed to this report. Laura C. Morel can be reached at lmorel@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3386.

One dead, four injured in wrong-way Interstate 275 crash near Sunshine Skyway 12/31/12 [Last modified: Monday, December 31, 2012 9:49pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bucs journal: Kicker Nick Folk has up and downs against Jaguars

    Bucs

    JACKSONVILLE — If the Bucs had hoped for a drama-free night in their kicking game, they'll have to wait another week.

    Bucs kicker Nick Folk celebrates one of his two made field goals against the Jaguars, but he also misses a field goal and has an extra point blocked.
  2. Late night update: Second wave follows Tropical Storm Harvey

    Hurricanes

    UPDATE: At 11 p.m. the National Hurricane Center said a hurricane hunter plane had determined that Tropical Storm Harvey had formed with sustained winds of 40 mph.

    Three tropical waves are expected to strengthen as they move across the Atlantic Ocean. [Courtesy of the National Hurricane Center]
  3. Stealth anti-Jack Latvala group tied to Adam Putnam campaign

    Blogs

    Politico reports:

     A longtime political consultant for Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam is behind a website calling one of his rivals in the race, state Sen. Jack Latvala, a “liberal.”

  4. Council gives in to pension dispute with St. Pete firefighters

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The City Council was forced to consider its first labor dispute in years Thursday when it gave the firefighters union most of the pension enhancements it has long asked for.

    The firefighters’ union won a pension victory at Thursday’s City Council meeting. [SCOTT KEELER    |      TIMES]
  5. Bucs top Jaguars behind strong first half

    Bucs

    JACKSONVILLE

    There is a reason why the air in Tampa Bay is filled with playoff talk. If Thursday night's 12-8 Bucs preseason win over the Jaguars is any indication, it's also going to be filled with footballs thrown by quarterback Jameis Winston.

    Doug Martin gets the Bucs’ only touchdown  on a 2-yard run, squeaking past linebacker Telvin Smith in the first quarter. He has five carries for 30 yards.