Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Riverview family 'devastated' after crash kills daughter, injures 5

RIVERVIEW — A Riverview family is devastated after a suspected drunken driver claimed the life of 5-year-old Lilly Mills and injured five other family members earlier this month.

"She was so smart. She knew every state in the U.S.," said great-grandmother Sharon Trapp. "She just knew everything."

The family had gone to a Brandon mall and was returning home when a pickup truck struck their van at U.S. 301 and Bloomingdale Avenue about 9:30 p.m. July 1.

All six occupants, including four children, were taken to Tampa General Hospital. Paul Mills, 29, and Audrey Mills, 7, were seriously injured. The driver of the van, Samantha Populin, 25, and passengers Sophia Mills, 2, and Kayla Mills, 10, received minor injuries, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

Lilly, who was sitting on the side of the van struck by the pickup, was removed from life support the next day, Trapp said.

The family had canceled the bodily harm portion of their auto insurance two days before the crash because they could no longer afford it, Trapp said.

Paul Mills sustained serious injuries to his neck and back and still can't feel the back of his head. He is currently unable to work.

Lilly's funeral is at 11 am. today at Serenity Meadows Funeral Home in Riverview. Those attending are encouraged to wear Lilly's favorite color, pink. A burial will follow at Serenity Meadows Memorial Park.

The driver of the pickup, Rolando Rojas, 52, of Tampa was driving on U.S. 301 when he tried to squeeze his truck between cars stopped at a light, the patrol said. His Ford sideswiped both cars before hitting the Mills' Chrysler van, which was turning onto Bloomingdale Avenue on a green light. The collision caused Rojas' truck to hit a fourth vehicle and overturn, troopers said.

Rojas faces charges of vehicular homicide, DUI manslaughter, DUI with serious bodily injury, DUI, four counts of DUI with property damage or injury and reckless driving with serious bodily injury. His attorney could not be reached for comment.

Rojas remains in the Hillsborough County jail on $160,500 bail.

Biz Carson can be reached at or (813) 661-2441.

Riverview family 'devastated' after crash kills daughter, injures 5 07/11/11 [Last modified: Monday, July 11, 2011 11:43pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Florida education news: Computer coding, guidance counseling, career planning and more


    SESSION STARTERS: State Sen. Jeff Brandes refiles legislation to allow Florida high school students to swap computer coding for foreign language credits.

  2. Rays morning after: Offense showing some life



  3. Protectors of Confederate statue readied for a battle that never materialized

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — Big Dixie flags were waving. County employees had erected a barrier around the Confederate soldier statue at Main and Broad streets. Roads and parking areas were blocked off. Uniformed local officers and federal law enforcement patrolled.

    Police tape and barricades surround the Confederate statue in Brooksville.
  4. Manhattan Casino choice causes political headache for Kriseman


    ST. PETERSBURG — Days before the mayoral primary, Mayor Rick Kriseman's decision to let a Floribbean restaurant open in Midtown's historic Manhattan Casino has caused political angst within the voting bloc he can least afford to lose: the black community.

    Last week Mayor Rick Kriseman chose a Floribbean restaurant concept to fill Midtown's historic Manhattan Casino. But that decision, made days before next week's mayoral primary, has turned into a political headache for the mayor. Many residents want to see the building's next tenant better reflect its cultural significance in the black community. [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]
  5. FSU-Bama 'almost feels like a national championship game Week 1'


    The buzz is continuing to build for next Saturday's blockbuster showdown between No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Florida State.