PLANT CITY — Three people died and three others were critically injured in a series of crashes Wednesday night in Plant City.
The Florida Highway Patrol has not identified a person it suspects stole a sport utility vehicle involved in two of the crashes. Witnesses saw a man running away.
Troopers say Alfonso Hernandez, Salvador Gonzales and Kelly A. Nobles died from injuries suffered in the wrecks. The injured people were all in area hospitals Thursday in critical condition.
The first crash happened at 9:40 p.m. at Holloway Road, north of State Road 60, said Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Larry Kraus.
Witnesses told troopers a Ford F-250 southbound on County Road 39 ran a stop sign and hit a Ford Taurus headed east on Holloway Road.
Hernandez and Gonzales were thrown from the Taurus and died at the scene, Kraus said. It was unclear who was driving.
The F-250 driver, Alan W. Nobles, 39, was taken to Tampa General Hospital in critical condition.
His passenger, 37-year-old Kelly Nobles, was taken to TGH, where she died. Both are from Wimauma.
After that crash, Kraus said, a southbound 1996 Ford Explorer hit the front of the Taurus and kept going.
About a mile later, at McDonald Road, the Explorer turned left into the path of a northbound 2003 Toyota Corolla and crashed, Kraus said.
The Corolla driver, 41-year-old Rosie Gomez, and her passenger, 80-year-old Luisa Gomez, both of Plant City, were taken to Lakeland Regional Hospital in critical condition.
The Explorer driver abandoned the vehicle and fled before troopers arrived.
The SUV is owned by a woman who lives nearby and called 911 to report it stolen just as sheriff's deputies arrived at her house to investigate the crash, Kraus said.
Witnesses who saw the man run from the crash scene could not provide a complete description, Kraus said. The man was probably injured, Kraus said.
"The Explorer took two pretty good hits," Kraus said. Troopers checked local hospitals but had no suspects. "It's frustrating for us. We wish we had more."